The identification of hydrological indices for the characterization of macroinvertebrate community response to flow regime variability
journal contributionposted on 24.04.2015, 11:00 by Thomas P. Worrall, Michael J. Dunbar, Chris A. Extence, Cedric L.R. Laize, Wendy A. Monk, Paul WoodPaul Wood
The importance of flow regime variability for maintaining ecological functioning and integrity of river ecosystems has been firmly established in both natural and anthropogenically modified systems. River flow regimes across lowland catchments in eastern England are examined using 47 variables, including those derived using the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA) software. A principal component analysis method was used to identify redundant hydrological variables and those that best characterized the hydrological series (1986–2005). A small number of variables (<6) characterized up to 95% of the statistical variability in the flow series. The hydrological processes and conditions that the variables represent were found to be significant in structuring the in-stream macroinvertebrate community Lotic-invertebrate Index for Flow Evaluation (LIFE) scores at both the family and species levels. However, hydrological variables only account for a relatively small proportion of the total ecological variability (typically <10%). The research indicates that a range of other factors, including channel morphology and anthropogenic modification of in-stream habitats, structure riverine macroinvertebrate communities in addition to hydrology. These factors need to be considered in future environmental flow studies to enable the characterization of baseline/reference conditions for management and restoration purposes.
TW acknowledges the support of a Loughborough University Department of Geography scholarship with a CASE award from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the Environment Agency of England and Wales (EA).
- Social Sciences
- Geography and Environment