Diversity patterns and food web structure in a Mediterranean intermittent stream



In this work we present the results of a one-year study on the macroinvertebrate community in an intermittent stream in southern Spain. We have studied the taxonomic composition, diversity and food web monthly in order to consider temporal variability in these parameters. More than 60 macroinvertebrate taxa have been recorded in the stream, but they do not cohabit at the same time. Many of them join the community at the beginning of the wet period. Afterwards, some new taxa incorporate but some others disappear. This leads to huge fluctuations in the diversity of the community and in the food web of different sampling dates. These variations are linked to environmental disturbances, mainly to flow peaks and minimums. From a relatively well structured, but simple, food web at the beginning of the wet period, it can be seen how several trophic levels disappear with time, and how several organisms change or extend their trophic function within it. We relate these variations to the intermediate disturbance hypothesis and discuss the resilience of the community of this intermittent stream (© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)