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Can macroinvertebrate biological traits indicate fine‐grained sediment conditions in streams?

Can macroinvertebrate biological traits indicate fine‐grained sediment conditions in streams?
Can macroinvertebrate biological traits indicate fine‐grained sediment conditions in streams?
Excessive inputs of fine‐grained sediment can damage aquatic ecosystems both by degrading habitat condition and by directly impairing biota. Recent research has improved our understanding of how benthic macroinvertebrates respond to fine‐grained sediment stress, leading to the development of a variety of bioassessment indices based on changes in taxonomic composition and biological trait composition. Use of biological traits as indicators of stress has been advocated on the basis of a better mechanistic understanding of the biotic and abiotic factors acting on benthic communities. We quantified changes in the macroinvertebrate biological trait assemblage from a large number of river reaches spanning a national‐scale gradient of increasing agricultural fine sediment delivery and retention, having first factored out variation associated with the natural environmental gradient, with the aim of robustly testing predictions of trait response. We found strong support for 2 of 18 predictions of how macroinvertebrate traits would respond to fine sediment stress. Furthermore, using an independent dataset, we were able to confirm the response of 5 of 6 trait classes that partial RLQ‐fourth corner analysis found to be significantly associated with the fine sediment gradient. Prevalence of eggs as a resistant form, in combination with either an adult aquatic life stage or crawling, provided the best indication of fine sediment conditions in streams, approaching the performance of taxonomic composition‐based sediment indices, CoFSIsp and EPSI mtl. This study has robustly confirmed the potential of macroinvertebrate biological traits as indicators of fine sediment impacts.
1535-1459
Murphy, J.F.
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Jones, J.I.
9acb09cb-4a0d-4fcd-99cc-9bf198d9d564
Arnold, A.
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Duerdoth, C.P.
ef15369b-edc4-445c-8ca5-af77b5405d79
Pretty, J.L.
e3e537b2-eadd-41e4-bb4e-de36f4cee538
Naden, P.S.
94009f2b-9d27-4341-9fdd-daffc281d76d
Sear, D.A.
ccd892ab-a93d-4073-a11c-b8bca42ecfd3
Collins, A.L.
eb72a479-2336-4268-a837-79d926239de3
Murphy, J.F.
6f230e5a-143a-4563-953f-57a5eddd7797
Jones, J.I.
9acb09cb-4a0d-4fcd-99cc-9bf198d9d564
Arnold, A.
f4dc0184-547e-4775-99a9-15083657a171
Duerdoth, C.P.
ef15369b-edc4-445c-8ca5-af77b5405d79
Pretty, J.L.
e3e537b2-eadd-41e4-bb4e-de36f4cee538
Naden, P.S.
94009f2b-9d27-4341-9fdd-daffc281d76d
Sear, D.A.
ccd892ab-a93d-4073-a11c-b8bca42ecfd3
Collins, A.L.
eb72a479-2336-4268-a837-79d926239de3

Murphy, J.F., Jones, J.I., Arnold, A., Duerdoth, C.P., Pretty, J.L., Naden, P.S., Sear, D.A. and Collins, A.L. (2017) Can macroinvertebrate biological traits indicate fine‐grained sediment conditions in streams? River Research and Applications. (doi:10.1002/rra.3194).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Excessive inputs of fine‐grained sediment can damage aquatic ecosystems both by degrading habitat condition and by directly impairing biota. Recent research has improved our understanding of how benthic macroinvertebrates respond to fine‐grained sediment stress, leading to the development of a variety of bioassessment indices based on changes in taxonomic composition and biological trait composition. Use of biological traits as indicators of stress has been advocated on the basis of a better mechanistic understanding of the biotic and abiotic factors acting on benthic communities. We quantified changes in the macroinvertebrate biological trait assemblage from a large number of river reaches spanning a national‐scale gradient of increasing agricultural fine sediment delivery and retention, having first factored out variation associated with the natural environmental gradient, with the aim of robustly testing predictions of trait response. We found strong support for 2 of 18 predictions of how macroinvertebrate traits would respond to fine sediment stress. Furthermore, using an independent dataset, we were able to confirm the response of 5 of 6 trait classes that partial RLQ‐fourth corner analysis found to be significantly associated with the fine sediment gradient. Prevalence of eggs as a resistant form, in combination with either an adult aquatic life stage or crawling, provided the best indication of fine sediment conditions in streams, approaching the performance of taxonomic composition‐based sediment indices, CoFSIsp and EPSI mtl. This study has robustly confirmed the potential of macroinvertebrate biological traits as indicators of fine sediment impacts.

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Murphy_etal_Aug17 (2) - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 28 July 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 September 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 415470
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/415470
ISSN: 1535-1459
PURE UUID: d4a21d92-78a0-432d-9a80-f4c6bf18e63b
ORCID for D.A. Sear: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0191-6179

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Date deposited: 10 Nov 2017 17:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 04:47

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