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PATCH DYNAMICS OF HYDROLOGICALLY DISTINCT REFUGIA: RECOLONIZATION OF BENTHIC MACROINVERTEBRATES AFTER A RECORD DROUGHT IN A SPRING-FED SEMI-ARID LANDSCAPE

Burk, R A, University of North Texas, USA, rosemary@unt.edu; Kennedy, J H, University of North Texas, USA, James.Kennedy@unt.edu;

This study examines the role of spring-fed refugia during a supraseasonal drought and recolonization of benthic macroinveretebrates in Ash and Silver Creeks (Parker County: TX) over eighteen months. Ash Creek maintained flow for 2.0 km in contrast to other regional streams with minimal surface water and no flow. Recolonization at a downstream intermittent site was slow, compared to rates reported for other prairie streams, with taxonomic richness approaching the headwater site’s eight months post flow. Riffles, perennial and shaded disconnected pools were refugia for drought-sensitive aquatic insects and taxonomic richness by macrohabitat type was significantly different (ANOVA, F3,44=27.34, p<0.0001). SNK analysis demonstrated preferential invertebrate use of refugia grouping macrohabitats as: Riffles>Perennial pools = Shaded disconnected pools > Full sun disconnected pools. Rare relict taxa with low resilience, such as Lutrochus sp., Mayatrichia sp., and Neotrichia sp., would likely be displaced without lotic refugia. Conservation of groundwater is critical to preserving a spatial and temporal patchwork of refugia for benthic invertebrates that increases these variable ecosystems resilience to disturbances and is thought to maintain regional species diversity.


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