Monday, July 1, 2019
New paper in Functional Ecology
- Large wood (LW) is a natural element of river environments and an integral component of many river restoration schemes to promote biodiversity. It is an important habitat in itself, but it also induces a wide range of hydraulic, hydrological, geomorphological and chemical conditions that influence the ecological community. However, the effects of hydro‐geomorphological processes induced by LW on local benthic and hyporheic invertebrates have not been well characterized.
- A functional approach was applied to invertebrate data collected in a field survey at sites with LW and without LW (control) to investigate the response of hyporheic and benthic invertebrates' trait profiles in response to local LW‐induced processes.
- We hypothesized LW sites to be associated with different trait modalities than control sites in relation to wood‐induced processes and conditions (i.e., hyporheic exchange flow, oxygen availability, temporal stability, organic matter, denitrification, hydraulic conductivity). Multivariate analyses and partial least squares (PLS) path modelling were used to detect the differences in trait profiles between LW and control sites and to study the variation of traits as a function of hydrological, sedimentological, physical and chemical variables.
- Biological (i.e., aquatic stages, reproduction), physiological (i.e., dispersal, feeding habits) and behavioural (i.e., substrate preferences) trait utilization by the hyporheic meiofauna differed between LW and control sites. At LW sites, the hyporheic meiofaunal assemblage was significantly associated with aquatic active dispersal, aquatic eggs and hard substrate preferences. This trait category selection was linked to changes in physical–sedimentological processes at LW sites when compared to control sites. Macrofaunal benthic and hyporheic functional traits did not differ significantly between wood and control sites, suggesting similar functioning of these assemblages at the surface–subsurface interface.
- This study found that LW affects invertebrate traits by altering fluvial processes to produce, locally, a mosaic of habitats. Hyporheic meiofauna trait responses to LW processes have suggested (a) the crucial role of LW in supporting river benthic zone functioning and thus (b) a possible benefit to river restoration by enhancing functional interactions among different ecological niches.