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Keywords:

  • macroinvertebrates;
  • chalk streams;
  • discharge;
  • drought;
  • flood

Abstract

The macroinvertebrate assemblages of three unshaded sites on the River Kennet and one shaded site on the River Lambourn in Berkshire, England, were sampled in summer 1997–2001. Quantitative samples were taken on gravel and on the dominant macrophyte at each site in each year and abundance data were recorded for 57 families of macroinvertebrates. The study commenced during a major drought (1997), but in subsequent years discharge prior to sampling was much higher, culminating in the exceptionally high flows of spring 2001. Both family richness and abundance varied significantly in relation to site, habitat and year. Multidimensional scaling ordination, based on Bray-Curtis dissimilarities, also displayed significant differences between sites, habitats and years. Differences in composition between the Kennet sites were partly due to longitudinal zonation whilst on the Lambourn, faunal differences resulted from shading and the addition of families from nearby habitats, including marginal vegetation. Major changes took place in family composition and abundance between the drought year of 1997 and 1998, indicating that faunal recovery from drought was rapid. Thereafter, faunal changes between 1998 and 2000 were relatively limited. In 2001, following the prolonged period of exceptionally high discharge, overall family richness peaked on both habitats at the three Kennet sites and family abundance reached peak or second highest values on all four sites and both habitats. Thus, the recent high discharge regimes experienced by these perennial chalk stream sites have had no immediate detrimental consequences for the macroinvertebrate assemblages. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.