Spatial and seasonal variability of peatland stream ecosystems
Article first published online: 29 DEC 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Special Issue: Ecohydrology on the edge
Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 577–588, July 2011
How to Cite
Ramchunder, S. J., Brown, L. E., Holden, J. and Langton, R. (2011), Spatial and seasonal variability of peatland stream ecosystems. Ecohydrol., 4: 577–588. doi: 10.1002/eco.189
- Issue published online: 19 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 29 DEC 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 NOV 2010
- Manuscript Received: 12 AUG 2010
- acid waters;
- headwater stream;
- Moor House National Nature Reserve;
- river continuum;
Headwater stream ecosystems draining blanket peat-dominated catchments occur in many high-latitude river systems. These systems are thought to be very sensitive to threats from climate change, and land-use modification including artificial drainage, overgrazing, afforestation and vegetation burning. This study examined ten peatland streams in the headwaters of the River Tees to examine spatial and seasonal patterns of instream physicochemical variables and benthic macroinvertebrate communities across the stream network. Principle component analysis revealed significant positive relationships between catchment size and electrical conductivity, sulfate concentration, pH and median bed sediment size, and negative relationships with suspended sediment and aluminium concentrations. Seasonal variability was particularly evident in stream water temperature, benthic particulate organic matter and nitrate and chloride concentrations. Macroinvertebrate community abundance and diversity were typically similar across streams, but redundancy analysis demonstrated turnover of macroinvertebrate assemblages with increases in stream size. In particular, first- and second-order streams hosted small-sized stoneflies such as Amphinemura standfussi and Nemoura cambrica, while larger streams (third- and fourth-order) supported more mayflies and larger predatory stoneflies (e.g. Dinocras cephalotes and Perla bipunctata). Many environmental drivers of ecological patterns appear to work in synergy in peatland headwater streams, and controlled experiments may be necessary to disentangle some of the variables to guide effective conservation and management strategies in impacted peatland river systems. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.