The river continuum concept (RCC) first proposed by Vannote et al. (1980) has widely been accepted as the general template for characterizing the ecology of streams and rivers as water travels from the headwaters to much larger bodies of water. We tested the RCC on two small streams, Mary Creek and Chambers Creek in Itasca State Park. The streams chosen were both small with lentic sources, however physically the streams differ greatly in the variables we examined. We examined variables including substrate type, flow, canopy coverage, depth, width, pH and macro-invertebrate functional feeding groups to test if the two streams would fit the concept of low order streams. We found that the two streams are significantly different from each other and that Chambers varies somewhat from the RCC. Mary Creek fits the characteristics of a low order stream while Chambers Creek fits the physical characteristics of a mid order stream with some of the community composition of a low order stream. Mary Creek’s characteristics that classify it as a low order stream are the almost complete canopy coverage, narrow average width of 2.5m, shallow depth of 19cm, and substrate of rock and sand. Whereas, the characteristics that make Chambers Creek a mid order stream are little to no canopy coverage, mid size width averaging 10m, depth of 70cm, and a substrate of silt and sand. The organic matter at each location also differs, Mary Creek is comprised of coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM) and Chambers Creek is comprised of mostly fine particulate organic matter (FPOM). This organic matter is the primary nutrient source for different functional feeding groups.
Petitti, James; Jewett, Erin; Reddy, Priyanka; Shimp, Adam.
Comparison of Two Small Streams in Itasca State Park with the River Continuum Concept.
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