The widespread degradation of lotic ecosystems has prompted extensive river restoration efforts globally, but many studies have reported modest ecological responses to rehabilitation practices. The functional properties of biotic communities are rarely examined within post-project appraisals, which would provide more ecological information underpinning ecosystem responses to restoration practices and potentially pinpoint project limitations. This study examines macroinvertebrate community responses to three projects which aimed to physically restore channel morphologies. Taxonomic and functional trait compositions supported by widely occurring lotic habitats (biotopes) were examined across paired restored and non-restored (control) reaches. The multivariate location (average community composition) of taxonomic and functional trait compositions differed marginally between control and restored reaches. However, changes in the amount of multivariate dispersion were more robust and indicated greater ecological heterogeneity within restored reaches, particularly when considering functional trait compositions. Organic biotopes (macrophyte stands and macroalgae) occurred widely across all study sites and supported a high alpha (within-habitat) taxonomic diversity compared to mineralogical biotopes (sand and gravel patches), which were characteristic of restored reaches. However, mineralogical biotopes possessed a higher beta (between-habitat) functional diversity, although this was less pronounced for taxonomic compositions. This study demonstrates that examining the functional and structural properties of taxa across distinct biotopes can provide a greater understanding of biotic responses to river restoration works. Such information could be used to better understand the ecological implications of rehabilitation practices and guide more effective management strategies.
Environmental Management – Springer Journals
Published: May 17, 2017
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