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SUMMARY. 1. Studies on the zonation of benthic fauna in fourteen streams situated in a variety of latitudes from Alaska to New Zealand have been evaluated.

2. We suggest that physical characteristics of flow (‘stream hydraulics’) are the most important environmental factor governing the zonation of stream benthos on a world-wide scale.

3. From the source to the mouth of a stream, zones of transition in stream hydraulics' occur, to which the general pattern of stream invertebrate assemblages can be related. In these zones benthic community stability and resilience must be different from those upstream and downstream of the hydraulic transition zones.