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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

Local, landscape and regional factors structuring benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages in Swedish streams

Sandin L, Johnson RK


A total of 694 streams were sampled for benthic macroinvertebrates in the autumn of 1995 as part of the Swedish national stream survey. After removal of sites considered as impacted, data from 428 streams as well as a large number of environmental variables were used to determine the relative importance of local, landscape, and large scale factors in explaining the variability in species composition of benthic stream macroinvertebrates. The environmental variables were divided into seven explanatory variable groups: local physical, local chemical, catchment land use/cover, catchment bedrock geology, Quaternary geology in catchment, regional factors (such as ecoregion) and spatial position. Partial Canonical Correspondence Analysis was used to partition the total explained variance in the species data into these variable groups. The pure (or unique) effects of the seven variable groups accounted for 69.1%, and combinations of variable groups (interaction terms) the remaining 30.9% of the total explained variability. Local scale variables such as in-stream substratum, vegetation in and near the stream (riparian zone), and some chemical variables were most strongly associated with the among-site variability. Local physical (24.4%) and local chemical (20.4%) variables explained the largest part of the among-site variability of community assemblages. These results are of importance when planning conservation and management measurements, implementing large-scale biomonitoring programs, and predicting how human alterations will affect running water ecosystems

Published in

Landscape Ecology
2004, Volume: 19, number: 5, pages: 501-514