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The use of palaeoecological and contemporary macroinvertebrate community data to characterize riverine reference conditions

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posted on 04.09.2019 by Emma Seddon, Matthew Hill, Malcolm Greenwood, Christopher Mainstone, Kate Mathers, James C White, Paul Wood
Defining reference conditions is a crucial element in quantifying the extent of anthropogenic modification and for identifying restoration targets in riverine ecosystems. Despite palaeoecological approaches being widely applied in lakes to establish reference conditions, their use in lotic ecosystems remains limited. In this study, we examine contemporary, historical (1930 and 1972), and palaeoecological macroinvertebrate biodiversity and biomonitoring scores in Eastburn Beck, a headwater tributary of the River Hull (UK) to determine if palaeoecological approaches can be used to characterize lotic system reference conditions. Palaeoecological samples comprised a greater gamma diversity (18 taxa) than contemporary samples (8 taxa), samples taken in 1972 (11 taxa) and 1930 (8 taxa). Palaeoecological samples supported taxonomically different Gastropoda, Trichoptera, and Coleoptera (GTC) communities compared with contemporary and historical samples (1930 and 1972). Results from biomonitoring indices using the GTC community indicated that the palaeochannel had (a) similar invertebrate biological quality, (b) a less energetic flow regime, and (c) increased fine sediment deposits compared with the contemporary channel. The results clearly illustrate that palaeoecological data can provide a suitable method to characterize reference conditions for lotic habitats. However, it is important to recognize that faunal data from palaeochannel deposits provide a short-term “snapshot” of the conditions within the river immediately prior to its hydrological isolation. River restoration activities should therefore draw on multiple lines of evidence, including palaeoecological information where possible, to characterize a range of reference conditions to reflect the highly dynamic nature of lotic ecosystems.

Funding

Natural Environment Research Council Open CASE Studentship award (REF—NE/G011524/1)

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

River Research and Applications

Volume

35

Issue

8

Pages

1302 - 1313

Publisher

Wiley

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publisher statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: SEDDON, E. … et al, 2019. The use of palaeoecological and contemporary macroin-vertebrate community data to characterize riverine reference conditions. River Research and Applications, 35 (8), pp.1302-1313, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.3490. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

Acceptance date

12/06/2019

Publication date

2019-07-21

Copyright date

2019

ISSN

1535-1459

eISSN

1535-1467

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Paul Wood

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