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Broad-scale patterns of invertebrate richness and community composition in temporary rivers: effects of flow intermittence


T. Datry, Inst. national de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l’Environnement et l’Agriculture, CS 70077 Lyon, France. E-mail:


Temporary rivers are increasingly common freshwater ecosystems, but there have been no global syntheses of their community patterns. In this study, we examined the responses of aquatic invertebrate communities to flow intermittence in 14 rivers from multiple biogeographic regions covering a wide range of flow intermittence and spatial arrangements of perennial and temporary reaches. Hydrological data were used to describe flow intermittence (FI, the proportion of the year without surface water) gradients. Linear mixed-effects models were used to examine the relationships between FI and community structure and composition. We also tested if communities at the most temporary sites were nested subsets of communities at the least temporary and perennial sites. Taxon richness decreased as FI increased and invertebrate communities became dominated by ubiquitous taxa. The number of resilient taxa (with high dispersal capacities) decreased with increased FI, whereas the number of resistant taxa (with adaptations to desiccation) was not related to FI. River-specific and river-averaged model comparisons indicated most FI-community relationships did not differ statistically among rivers. Community nestedness along FI gradients was detected in most rivers and there was little or no influence of the spatial arrangement of perennial and temporary reaches. These results indicate that FI is a primary driver of aquatic communities in temporary rivers, regardless of the biogeographic species pool. Community responses are largely due to resilience rather than resistance mechanisms. However, contrary to our expectations, resilience was not strongly influenced by spatial fragmentation patterns, suggesting that colonist sources other than adjacent perennial reaches were important.