Many streams throughout the United States are negatively impacted by excess fine sediments (sand, silt, and clay). Benthic macroinvertebrates are a commonly-used tool to assess stream condition; however, current methodologies typically are not able to distinguish among stressors. Previous studies have correlated macroinvertebrate communities and traits with excess fine sediments, demonstrating that aquatic macroinvertebrates are sensitive to deposited fine sediment and the assemblages will shift in response. Western Lake Superior streams have a wide range of fine sediment amounts due to clay and sand soils, but have low amounts of other stressors, and thus are a good region to investigate relationships between macroinvertebrate traits and fine sediments. Data were collected from 22 stream sites located along the north shore of Lake Superior in 2010. The data collected in 2010 did not have the desired gradient of fine sediment due to wet conditions that year; therefore, the data were supplemented with data collected by NRRI personnel in earlier years (1997 – 2008). The five sediment stressors used in analyses included percent embeddedness, depth of fine sediments, total percent fine sediments, percent sand, and a combined sediment index created using normalized and transformed embeddedness, depth of fine sediments and total percent fine sediments. Fifty-seven specific taxonomic groups and macroinvertebrate physical and behavioral characteristics (traits) were tested as potential response metrics in linear regressions. In addition, TITAN analyses were used to look for thresholds or sediment stressor values at which a taxon increases greatly, decreases greatly, or disappears from a community. Both the linear regressions and TITAN analyses showed a change in the community structure under conditions of excess sediment in the form of embeddedness, total fines, depth of fines, and/or the combined sediment index. The TITAN analyses also showed a change in the community structure due to increasing proportion sand in the streambed. Furthermore, the analyses identified potential characteristics that may specifically make a particular macroinvertebrate more or less vulnerable to excess fine sediments.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. March 2016. Major: Water Resources Science. Advisor: Valerie Brady. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 89 pages.
Identifying The Impacts Of Excess Fine Sediment On Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities.
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