Benthos and Macroinvertebrate Drift in Six Streams Differing in Alkalinity

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The productive capacity of aquatic systems often is equated with the 'chemical richness' of the water. A primary objective of the present study was to relate macroinvertebrate benthos and drift to a streams' productive capacity as indicated by absolute levels of alkalinity. We tested this relationship in six 2nd–3rd order tributaries of the Salmon River, Idaho that ranged in alkalinity from 50 to 360 mg 1−1. Benthic density and biomass, drift biomass, and benthic organic matter increased with increasing levels of alkalinity, although not all relationships were significant. The proportion of drift biomass to benthic biomass was similar among study streams suggesting that drift was primarily passive during the study period. The data suggest that spatial variations in landscape-scale geology may indirectly affect spatial patterns of macroinvertebrate benthic and drift standing crops among streams within a single river basin by mediating lotic chemical richness as found among tributaries of the Salmon River basin.

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