The significance of refuge heterogeneity for lowland stream caddisfly larvae to escape from drift

J.H.F. de Brouwer, M.H.S. Kraak*, A.A. Besse-Lototskaya, P.F.M. Verdonschot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The process of macroinvertebrate drift in freshwater lowland streams is characterized by dislodgement, drift distance and subsequent return to the bottom. Refuges are important to all drift phases, since they may help larvae to avoid dislodgement and to escape from drift, even more so if the refuge structure is complex and heterogeneous. The aim of the present study was therefore to determine the influence of refuge heterogeneity on the ability of caddisfly larvae to return to the bottom from drift and to avoid secondary dislodgement. To this purpose a series of indoor flume experiments were undertaken, testing six Limnephilidae (Trichoptera) species, that occur on a gradient from lotic to lentic environments. Bed morphology (plain, refuges with or without leaf patches) and flow velocity (low (0.1 m/s), intermediate (0.3 m/s) and high (0.5 m/s) were manipulated. We showed that all species were favoured by refuges and that especially for species on the lentic end of the gradient (L. lunatus, L. rhombicus and A. nervosa), the ability to escape from drift and to avoid secondary dislodgement was increased. Moreover, we showed that all species spent more time in refuges than in open channel parts and more time in heterogeneous refuges (leaf patches) than in bare refuges, the latter being especially the case for larvae of the lotic species. For lentic species, not well adapted to high flow velocity, refuges are thus crucial to escape from drift, while for the lotic species, better adapted to high flow velocity, the structure of the refuge becomes increasingly important. It is concluded that refuges may play a crucial role in restoring and maintaining biodiversity in widened, channelized and flashy lowland streams.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2140
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2019


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