Responses of resources and consumers to experimental flow pulses in a temporary Mediterranean stream

Gemma Lobera*, Isabel Pardo, Liliana García, Celso Garcia, Ludmilla O. Ribeiro, Piet F.M. Verdonschot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Determining the resistance and resilience of resources and benthic invertebrates connected to instream refuges and species re-colonization in post-flood periods may help to elucidate mechanisms behind community recovery. This experiment simulated flow pulses in a small temporary stream in an extremely wet year, using upstream control and downstream flooded reaches at three sites in order to assess community resistance and resilience (benthos and drift), and analyse resources (periphyton and benthic organic matter) and invertebrates at pre- and post-flood time periods. The hyporheos was sampled in order to explore species exchanges with benthos. Fewer resources and benthic invertebrates at the beginning of the experiment were found than in previous studies when base flow conditions prevailed. Resource stocks and benthic invertebrates showed high resistance to the flow pulse. Interestingly, there was low resilience of benthic organic matter to natural seasonal flooding. Chlorophyll a did not recover after experimental floods; instead, it was reduced after floods, despite the more benign flow conditions and non-limiting irradiance levels, pointing to top-down control by consumers. Additionally, the experimental flood significantly disturbed only the invertebrate composition in the groundwater-fed stream, which was inhabited by the fewest adapted-to-flood-disturbances macroinvertebrates. Despite the low resilience observed, richness and densities of benthos increased during the study, evidencing progressive colonization. Around 50–60% of macroinvertebrates were present in both benthos and hyporheos. Richness increased after flooding, suggesting that the hyporheic zone could be the main source of colonizers. Three species traits characterized the hyporheos: small size, cocoons and feeders of microorganisms within the fine sediment matrix. The main results indicate that longer-than-normal flood periods in early spring may constrain invertebrate succession before the next summer drought in temporary streams. This study underscores the importance of hyporheic fauna as a significance source of colonizers, highlighting the importance of connectivity to the groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141843
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021


  • Benthic organic material
  • Floods
  • Hyporheos
  • Invertebrates
  • Periphyton
  • Temporary streams


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