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Response of invertebrates from the hyporheic zone of chalk rivers to eutrophication and land use

Pacioglu, Octavian, Moldovan, Oana Teodora
Environmental science and pollution research international 2016 v.23 no.5 pp. 4729-4740
Chironomidae, Copepoda, Elmidae, Gammarus pulex, Glossosomatidae, Nematoda, Oligochaeta, Psychomyiidae, chalk, eutrophication, fauna, habitats, land use, lotic systems, macroinvertebrates, nitrates, pollution load, rivers, sediment yield, sediments, streams, summer, water mites, water table, watersheds, winter, England
Whereas the response of lotic benthic macroinvertebrates to different environmental stressors is a widespread practice nowadays in assessing the water and habitat quality, the use of hyporheic zone invertebrates is still in its infancy. In this study, classification and regression trees analysis were employed in order to assess the ecological requirements and the potential as bioindicators for the hyporheic zone invertebrates inhabiting four lowland chalk rivers (south England) with contrasting eutrophication levels (based on surface nitrate concentrations) and magnitude of land use (based on percentage of fine sediments load and median interstitial space). Samples of fauna, water and sediment were sampled twice, during low (summer) and high (winter) groundwater level, at depths of 20 and 35 cm. Certain groups of invertebrates (Glossosomatidae and Psychomyiidae caddisflies, and riffle beetles) proved to be good indicators of rural catchments, moderately eutrophic and with high fine sediment load. A diverse community dominated by microcrustaceans (copepods and ostracods) were found as good indicators of highly eutrophic urban streams, with moderate-high fine sediment load. However, the use of other taxonomic groups (e.g. chironomids, oligochaetes, nematodes, water mites and the amphipod Gammarus pulex), very widespread in the hyporheic zone of all sampled rivers, is of limited use because of their high tolerance to the analysed stressors. We recommend the use of certain taxonomic groups (comprising both meiofauna and macroinvertebrates) dwelling in the chalk hyporheic zone as indicators of eutrophication and colmation and, along with routine benthic sampling protocols, for a more comprehensive water and habitat quality assessment of chalk rivers.