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

Do recolonisation processes in intermittent streams have sustained effects on benthic algal density and assemblage composition?

E. T. Chester A and B. J. Robson A B

A Environmental and Conservation Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South St Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: b.robson@murdoch.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 65(9) 784-790 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13239
Submitted: 11 September 2013  Accepted: 25 November 2013   Published: 16 June 2014

Abstract

When intermittent streams flow, benthic algae develop from both colonising propagules and regrowing dried biofilm. We aimed to determine whether colonisation processes influence algal densities and taxonomic composition beyond the period immediately following commencement of winter flows, and whether regulation modifies those processes, in the Victoria Range, Australia. Stones were placed in two unregulated streams, and upstream and downstream of weirs in three regulated streams, after dry biofilm was removed. Epilithic algae on treatment and control stones were collected after winter flows (12 weeks). Treatment effects were still apparent in one (unregulated) stream, but not in the other streams. Algal assemblages and densities upstream and downstream of weirs differed, but there was no systematic pattern among streams. In intermittent headwater streams, recolonisation processes may influence algal assemblages until spring; but in most streams, the duration of influence will be shorter, depending on the assemblage composition in regrowth and refuges, which is also shaped by conditions during the previous flow season. If the effects of regulation depend on how idiosyncratic flow regimes and assemblage compositions influence recolonisation, they may be difficult to predict. Similarly, recovery trajectories for stream communities after drought will differ among streams, depending on whether biofilm can develop during potentially short seasonal flows.

Additional keywords: biofilm, cyanobacteria, desmid, diatom, drought, epilithic algae, filamentous chlorophyte, mediterranean streams, river regulation.


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