Dormant aquatic invertebrates can remain viable in riverbed sediment during dry phases, forming a source for recolonisation during wet periods. Regional differences in capacity for invertebrates to survive drying in this way are poorly understood, but may indicate regional differences in vulnerability to altered flow regimes. We compared diversity of invertebrates in dry sediment from intermittent rivers in temperate and semi-arid Australia after 4–8 weeks of drying. We predicted adaptations of semi-arid biota to severe and unpredictable drying would make dry sediment a more significant recolonisation source, with higher relative diversity when compared with temperate rivers. Emerging aquatic invertebrate assemblages were compared to those sampled in nearby pools, as a common drying refuge. Relative taxa richness in rehydrated sediments was higher in the semi-arid region (83 ± 16% of pool taxa) than the temperate (47 ± 6% of pool taxa), despite lower overall richness (24 taxa in semi-arid, 32 taxa in temperate). Semi-arid rivers had greater potential for dry riverbeds to act as a source for recolonisation, given high relative diversity and abundance in dry sediment, combined with the frequent absence of alternative refuges. However, dry riverbeds in both regions provided a significant short-term refuge for aquatic invertebrates.
Hydrobiologia – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 16, 2017
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