We studied the relative importance of spatial and environmental factors as determinants of algal, bryophyte, and macroinvertebrate metacommunities in two boreal drainage basins differing in spatial extent. We used eigenfunction spatial analysis to model the spatial relationships among sites and distance-based redundancy analysis to partition the variability in biotic communities between the spatial filters generated through spatial eigenfunction analysis and the environmental factors measured in the field. In the smaller study area, each metacommunity was structured mostly by environmental factors. This was evidenced by the fact that either the pure environmental effect was significant or environmental factors were strongly spatially structured. In the larger study area, only pure environmental effects were significant. These findings suggest that the environmental control prevails in boreal headwater streams. However, our findings also suggest that the specific details of the community-environment and community–space relationships are dependent on the focal organism group and drainage basin.