Resistance and resilience of macroinvertebrate assemblages to drying and flood in a tallgrass prairie stream system

TitleResistance and resilience of macroinvertebrate assemblages to drying and flood in a tallgrass prairie stream system
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsFritz, KM, Dodds, WK
Pagination99 -112
Accession NumberKNZ00897
Keywordsdisturbance, drying, floods, intermittent streams, macroinvertebrates, prairie streams

Intermittent streams are common worldwide, and the ability of invertebrates to recover from floods and drought is a key feature of communities from these highly disturbed ecosystems. The macroinvertebrate assemblages of Kings Creek in northeastern Kansas were sampled regularly from four intermittent and two perennial sites over 2 years (1995–1996) to investigate the response and recovery to seasonal drying and floods. A ≈9mo drying period reduced taxa richness and density to 14% and 3% of pre-drying assemblages, respectively, in 1995–1996, whereas a 2mo drying period reduced richness by half and density to 4% of pre-drying assemblages in 1996. Floods at intermittent sites reduced densities and richness by 95% and ≈50%, respectively. A >50 y-flood reduced macroinvertebrate richness by 97% and density by >99% at a downstream perennial site. Resistance and resilience of total macroinvertebrate density was typically greater to floods than to drying, whereas resilience of taxa richness did not differ between disturbance types. The time required for recovery to pre-flood conditions (richness and density) was half as long (27 vs. 76 day) for intermittent sites compared to perennial sites. Colonization of intermittent sites was a function of distance from upstream refugia. Floods were a more important disturbance on assemblages in a downstream reach as compared to upstream reaches. In contrast, upstream reaches were more likely to dry. Recovery following flood and drought was dominated by colonization as opposed to tolerance, thus resilience is more important than resistance in regulating macroinvertebrate communities in these streams, and relative position in the landscape affects disturbance type, intensity, and ability of communities to recover from disturbance.