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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationships between headwater stream macroinvertebrate communities and summer low-flow events in a temperate rain forest Murakami, Aya


Using a forested headwater stream system as a model, the effects of inter-annual variation in summer discharge regimes on aquatic insect communities were investigated. More specifically, the benthic invertebrate community response to the intensity, minimum discharges, frequency, duration and abruptness of summer low-flow events were examined. We hypothesized that intensification of summer low-flow events, both in duration and magnitude, have some negative impacts on benthic macroinvertebrate communities in riffles. Examples of negative impacts include reduction in their abundance and/or biodiversity. First, the abundance and functional trait data of the benthic macroinvertebrates in the three streams in the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, British Columbia, Canada, were analyzed with respect to the low-flow events. Second, population models were built to simulate the potential responses of lotic aquatic insect communities to future climate change scenarios that differ in the rate of intensifications in extreme flow events: a low-flow event scenario within the current range versus 10% increase in intensity. The summer low-flow events were found to have a significant relationship with benthic macroinvertebrate communities through three-table ordinations of the empirical data. The community structure was correlated with a major ocean-atmosphere regime shift (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). The intensity and duration of low-flow events explained the observed shift in community structure favouring r-selected traits (e.g. short life cycle, high reproduction rate). The two low-flow severity scenarios showed the significant differential impacts on the aquatic insect community structures when individual populations were modeled according to their traits. Aquatic insects could be separated into three groups according to their sensitivities, measured by extinction rates, toward the two scenarios.

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