Macroinvertebrate assemblages from a stream-wetland complex: a case study with implications for assessing restored hydrologic functions

Environ Monit Assess. 2023 Feb 13;195(3):394. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-10983-7.


Legacies of past land use persist today in the form of incised, single-threaded stream channels with dramatically different hydrologic functions of pre-colonial stream valleys. Restoration practices that aim to return lost hydrologic functions by re-establishing floodplain and groundwater connections should result in stream habitat and biological assemblages that differ from modern, single-threaded channels. The aim of this case study was to identify attributes of macroinvertebrate assemblages that might serve as biological indicators of improved hydrologic functions following the restoration of a stream-wetland complex, similar to a Stage 0 restoration, of a headwater valley in the Western Allegheny region of the USA. We monitored hydrologic functions and macroinvertebrate assemblages from stream reaches of a restored and unrestored site over multiple years during the early years following restoration. Reduced bed mobility and increased flow duration indicated improved hydrologic functions from the restored site. Aggregate metrics that capture functional attributes of macroinvertebrate assemblage (i.e., density and biomass) were consistently greater from the restored site. EPT biomass from restored pools was 3-4 × greater than amounts from the unrestored site as a result of consistently greater mayfly abundance. Restored pools also supported a subassemblage of taxa with life history attributes that are aligned with habitat conditions created from improved hydrologic functions. Results from this case study demonstrate the importance of habitat-specific sampling designs that report the absolute abundance of potential biological indicators. Findings from this case study should help guide the development of rapid biological indicators of improved hydrologic functions.

PMID:36780093 | PMC:PMC9925594 | DOI:10.1007/s10661-023-10983-7


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