Association of macroinvertebrate assemblages with dissolved oxygen concentration and wood surface area in selected subtropical streams of the southeastern USA

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Abstract

Woody debris (CWD) is an important habitat component in northern Gulf of Mexico coastal plain streams, where low gradients and low flows allow accumulation of CWD and promote low dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. We tested the influences of CWD and DO on stream macroinvertebrates experimentally by placing two surface area CWD treatments each in three concentrations of ambient DO in two streams in Louisiana, USA, with macroinvertebrates collected from ambient woody debris used as a control. We also sampled macroinvertebrates in benthic and woody debris habitats in three streams twice yearly over 2 years to examine the applicability of the experimental results. Total abundance, richness (generic), and Shannon-Wiener diversity were all higher in lower DO conditions during the experiment, and total abundance was higher in the larger CWD treatment. Stream sampling corroborated the relationship between higher diversity and low DO in both benthic and woody debris habitats, but the relationship between richness and low DO only was supported in benthic habitats. Few taxa correlated with DO or CWD in the experiment (5 of 21 taxa) or stream survey (2 of 54 taxa). Whereas most taxa were uncorrelated with experimentally manipulated and in-stream measured variables, we suggest these taxa respond as generalists to stream habitat and physicochemistry. Based on this experiment and stream sampling, we believe the majority of macroinvertebrates in these streams are tolerant of seasonally low DO conditions.

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