Using discharge dynamics characteristics to predict the effects of climate change on macroinvertebrates in lowland streams

P.F.M. Verdonschot, M. van den Hoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite the uncertainties in the rate of climate change, the Atlantic zone of northwestern Europe is expected to experience warmer, wetter winters and wetter summers than at present. Summer precipitation probably will depend on short, heavy rain showers between dry periods. Changes in the amount, frequency, and intensity of precipitation are expected to change stream discharge patterns, especially in rainwater-fed lowland streams, which will shift toward more dynamic flow regimes. Indices of discharge dynamics were used to assess the effect of changes in climate through changes in hydrology and land and water use on natural lowland stream macroinvertebrate communities. Discharge dynamics were significantly correlated with macroinvertebrate community structure, current velocity, and organic material preference. Our results demonstrate important influences of dynamic discharge regimes and extreme flows on macroinvertebrate community structure. Predictions of the ecological effects of climate change and of changes in land and water use indicate impaired ecological conditions in lowland streams of the Atlantic zone of northwestern Europe. Scenario tests involving different climate and landuse options suggest that current restoration practices and planned restoration activities can positively interact to reduce negative effects of climate change on lowland stream ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491-1509
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • flow variability
  • running waters
  • benthic macroinvertebrates
  • flash floods
  • rivers
  • restoration
  • disturbance
  • ecosystems
  • management
  • ecology

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