The occurrence of benthos deep in the substratum of a stream


Dr D. D. Williams, Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


  • 1The vertical distribution of the benthic fauna of the Speed River, Ontario, was studied over a 13-month period from October 1970 to October 1971. Various physical and chemical parameters of this interstitial environment were also measured.
  • 2Several new techniques for sampling the interstitial environment of rivers wert devised. These methods and their relative efficiencies are considered.
  • 3The validity of the terms ‘hyporheal’ and ‘hyporheic’ are discussed and the term ‘hyporheos’ is offered to replace the former.
  • 4A brief resume of interstitial sampling methods is given with comments on their limitations for sampling deep heterogeneous substrates.
  • 5Chemical parameters are thought to be more important in the control and distribution ofthe fauna than physical parameters.
  • 6It is suggested that many larvae of stream-dwelling chironomids have over-wintering stages when they penetrate deep into the substrate to: (a) actively feed on the trapped organic detritus; (b) follow an optimum temperature for development.
  • 7It is suggested that the shape of an organism determines its success as a hypo-rheic form and examples are given.
  • 8The numbers of animals oecurring in the sub-benthic populations are shown to be very large indeed. For the Speed River, estimates of between 184,760 and 797,960 animals/m^ are made for different times of the year. Dry weight biomass is estimated o t vary between 30 9 g and 253-2 g/m^ throughout the year.
  • 9Sub-benthic or hyporheic populations are shown to exist in at least three other Canadian rivers. Some ofthe animals found are shown to be common to two or more of these rivers.
  • 10The inefficiencies of many conventional benthic samplers in sampling the total biomass of certain streams with hyporheic populations is discussed.