SUMMARY 1. Macroinvertebrate drift was investigated in seven small headwater streams along an altitudinal gradient (600–3350 m) in two adjacent river systems in east‐central Nepal. Study streams in the Likhu Khola were at the lowest altitude and flowed through terraced agriculture. At higher altitudes, Langtang streams flowed through catchments of forest and alpine scrub. Samples were collected every 3h over a 24 h period in each stream. 2. Terrestrial macroinvertebrate drift was greatest in streams with semi‐natural catchments, but was scarce in streams where trees were absent. 3. At lower altitudes drift was dominated by Hydropsychidae and Baetidae, which were most abundant in night samples, and Hydracarina, which tended to be day active. Baetidae also dominated drift at high altitudes, but here drift was increasingly aperiodic or diurnal. The composition of the drift reflected a significant correlation between the percentage abundance of taxa in the drift and benthos. 4. As in other mountain regions of the world, drift was aperiodic in fishless streams (high altitude), but strongly nocturnal in streams where insectivorous fish were present (lower altitude). However, a wide array of potentially important variables along the altitudinal gradient, such as temperature, climate and community structure, might be important influences on these patterns.
Freshwater Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1994
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