Relationships between stream size, suspended particles, and filter-feeding macroinvertebrates in a Great Plains drainage network

TitleRelationships between stream size, suspended particles, and filter-feeding macroinvertebrates in a Great Plains drainage network
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsWhiles, MR, Dodds, WK
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Pagination1589 -1600
Accession NumberKNZ00809

Suspended fine particles (seston) are an important component of energy and nutrient cycling in streams, but they can also be pollutants. We examined seston dynamics and filter-feeding macroinvertebrate communities in sites representing headwaters to large rivers in the Kansas River drainage, northeastern KS. Seston samples were collected at least seasonally during low to moderate flows for one year beginning in the summer of 1999, and quality was assessed by determining organic content and C to N ratio. A rapid bioassessment approach was used to examine filter-feeders. Relationships between stream size and seston concentrations were markedly influenced by anthropogenic activities. There was no relationship between total seston concentration and stream size across all sites (r = 0.14, p > 0.05), but a significant, positive relationship was evident when impounded and suburban sites were excluded (r = 0.73, p < 0.01); this same trend was evident for organic and inorganic components. Seasonal patterns of C to N ratio were evident, with generally lower values during winter and highest values in summer. However, seasonal patterns were dampened in suburban sites and virtually absent below impoundments. Filter-feeder richness was correlated with average organic seston concentrations (r = 0.8, p < 0.01), but this relationship was also obscured by impoundments and suburban development. In particular, impoundments had a dramatic, negative effect on richness. Abundance of most hydropsychid caddisfly taxa was positively correlated with organic seston concentration. Results indicate there are significant patterns regarding seston, filter-feeders, and stream size in this Great Plains river system, but patterns are strongly influenced by human activities. These relationships are relevant to management issues regarding suspended particles and the potential development of bioassessment techniques.