• 1
    Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera in two sites of the Upper Rhône River (France) were examined using multivariate analyses to determine: (i) relationships among seventeen species traits; (ii) habitat utilization of the fifty-five species present; (iii) the relationship between species traits and habitat utilization; (iv) trends of species traits and species richness in a framework of spatial and temporal habitat variability.
  • 2
    The species traits having the highest correlation ratios correspond to reproduction or life cycle, behavioural, and morphological characteristics. According to their traits, species of Baetidae, Caenidae, and Leptophlebiidae (Ephemeroptera) are opposite species of Perlidae and Perlodidae (Plecoptera).
  • 3
    The distribution of species in thirteen habitat types of the Upper Rhône River floodplain demonstrates a transverse gradient from the main channel to the oxbow lakes. Plecoptera are restricted to the different main channel habitats; in contrast, Ephemeroptera families have a broader distribution with Baetidae and Leptophlebiidae occurring in most floodplain habitats.
  • 4
    Plecoptera exhibit a significant relationship between species traits and habitat utilization but no relationship is evident for Ephemeroptera. Baetidae use many habitat types and have diverse species traits; in contrast, Leptophlebiidae, Heptageniidae, and Caenidae use many habitat types but each family has a rather uniform set of traits.
  • 5
    Trends in species traits were significantly related to both the spatial and temporal variability of habitats. Considering only temporal variability, the distribution of species trait modalities (= categories) corresponded well to predictions on trends in the river habitat templet for ‘minimum age at reproduction’ and ‘potential longevity’, and in general for ‘descendants per reproductive cycle’, ‘reproductive cycles per year’, ‘potential size’, and ‘body flexibility’ trends in six other traits did not match predictions.
  • 6
    No trends in species richness were evident in spatial–temporal framework of habitat variability.