Spatial and temporal variation in the macroinvertebrate fauna of streams of the northern jarrah forest, Western Australia: community structure


Mr S. E. Bunn, Department of Zoology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands 6009, Western Australia.


SUMMARY. 1. Streams of the northern jarrah forest, Western Australia, were sampled at twelve sites from December 1981 to December 1982 to examine spatial and temporal changes in the structure of the macroinvertebrate community.

2. The climate of this region is quite predictable by Australian standards and each year a hot, dry summer is followed by a mild, wet winter. Highest stream discharge occurs during winter (June-November) reducing to negligible flow over late summer and autumn (January-May). The low flows in summer were associated with warm water, lower dissolved oxygen, increased concentrations of cations and, in many cases, lower pH.

3. Temporal changes in abundance, diversity and evenness indicated that the invertebrate fauna became dominated by a few taxa during the summer months. Major spatial and temporal changes in the composition of the fauna were detected by classification and ordination. Summer and winter faunas were identified at most sites and were clearly associated with the seasonal changes in the physical and chemical environment. This seasonality is not typical of stream systems previously studied in Australia. Large spatial differences also occurred over small distances among sites in two similar-sized forested catchments.

4. Multiple discriminant analysis and stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that velocity and depth were highly associated with the observed temporal changes in the fauna, though other variables, including concentrations of cations and water temperature, were also important. Spatial differences were correlated with concentrations of cations which may simply reflect differences in the geologies of the catchments.