Sediment composition mediated land use effects on lowland streams ecosystems

Paula C. dos Reis Oliveira*, Michiel H.S. Kraak, Harm G. van der Geest, Sofia Naranjo, Piet F.M. Verdonschot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the widely acknowledged connection between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the contribution of runoff to the sediment composition in lowland stream deposition zones and the subsequent effects on benthic invertebrates remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the mechanisms by which runoff affects sediment composition and macroinvertebrates in deposition zones of lowland stream ecosystems. To this end, sediment from runoff and adjacent instream deposition zones from streams with different land use was chemically characterized and the biological effects were assessed at the species, community and ecosystem level. Runoff and deposition zone sediment composition as well as biological responses differed clearly between forest and agricultural streams. The stream deposition zone sediment C/N ratio reflected the respective runoff sediment composition. Deposition zones in the forest stream had a higher C/N ratio in comparison to the agricultural streams. Growth of Hyalella azteca and reproduction of Asellus aquaticus were higher on forest stream sediment, whereas chironomids and worms suffered less mortality on the agricultural sediments containing only natural food. The forest stream deposition zones showed higher values for indices indicative of biological integrity and had a lower sediment oxygen demand. We concluded that agricultural land use affects lowland stream ecosystem deposition zones at the species, community and ecosystem level via altered food quality (C/N ratio) and higher oxygen demand of the sediment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-468
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • C/N ratio
  • Deposition zone
  • Food quality
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Runoff
  • Sediment respiration


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