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In the mood for wood-habitat specific colonization patterns of benthic invertebrate communities along the longitudinal gradient of an Austrian river

Florian Dossi, Patrick Leitner, Steffen Pauls, Wolfram Graf
Hydrobiologia 2018 v.805 no.1 pp. 245-258
benthic organisms, biodiversity, ecological restoration, ecosystems, emotions, fauna, fluid mechanics, habitats, invertebrates, rivers, wood, Austria
Instream large wood (LW) constitutes an indispensable element of natural river ecosystems. It affects local hydraulics, morphology, nutrient budget, overall habitat complexity, and dynamics. Despite numerous studies about LW as a habitat for benthic communities, information on the varying importance along the longitudinal gradient of a river is lacking. The focus of this study is therefore to investigate general differences between lithal and xylal colonizers and to further investigate trends along the river course. We analyzed lithal and xylal communities at ten sites along the medium-sized Lafnitz River in Southeast Austria. Our results significantly show (1) a general differentiation between lithal and xylal communities, (2) an increasing distinction of the lithal and xylal fauna along the longitudinal gradient of the river, and (3) a distinct correlation between the distance from source and the number of exclusive xylal and nowadays predominantly rare taxa. The presence of LW is therefore directly linked to higher aquatic biodiversity compared to rocky substrates and presents a unique element for river restoration, especially in lower river sections.