Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Variable discharge alters habitat suitability for benthic algae and cyanobacteria in a forested Mediterranean stream

Elisabet Tornés A B C and Sergi Sabater A B
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A Institute of Aquatic Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Girona, Campus Montilivi, E-17071, Girona, Spain.

B Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), Scientific and Technologic Park of the University of Girona, E-17003, Girona, Spain.

C Corresponding author. Email: etornes@icra.cat

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(4) 441-450 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF09095
Submitted: 29 April 2009  Accepted: 15 September 2009   Published: 27 April 2010

Abstract

Large-scale algal community patterns can be understood by studying organisation within patches. Spatial heterogeneity in light and substratum type may affect the biomass and community composition of benthic algae and cyanobacteria. We compared the effects of these factors at the species level in two reaches differing in canopy cover in a forested Mediterranean stream in winter (high water flow) and late spring (low water flow). Partial redundancy analyses revealed that the major determinants of species distribution were strongly associated with variations in measured environmental variables. Light availability, the Reynolds number and substratum type were the main factors accounting for the algal and cyanobacterial distribution. Factors affecting algal distribution varied between hydrological periods, suggesting that some species had specific requirements whereas others had a wider tolerance to environmental conditions. Our results demonstrated that the hydraulic conditions (low velocity v. high velocity) influence small-scale heterogeneity in streams, and that this affects benthic community distribution.

Additional keywords: biovolume, Chlorophyll a, multivariate analysis.


Acknowledgements

We thank Annelies Veraart and Gemma Vidal for help with fieldwork. Robert Sheath kindly confirmed the taxonomic diagnosis of young Lemanea filaments. Elisabet Tornés was recipient of a fellowship (FPI) from the Spanish Science Ministry. This research was funded by the project CGL2007-65549/BOS of the Spanish Science Ministry, and by the project SCARCE (CONSOLIDER-INGENIO CSD2009-00065). We are also grateful for the comments of Andrew Boulton and two anonymous referees on the manuscript.


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