Distribution of macroinvertebrates in streams of Greenland

N Friberg, Alexander Milner, LM Svendsen, C Linegaard, SE Larsen

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42 Citations (Scopus)


1. Macroinvertebrates were collected and physico-chemical variables measured at 16 stream sites in Western Greenland during July 1999. Eight sites were located on Disko Island in an arctic oceanic climate and eight sites in the Kangerlussuaq area close to the icecap where the climate is arctic continental. The streams had different water sources (glacial, groundwater, snowmelt and lake water). 2. The streams showed pronounced differences in water temperature (2.2-17.3 degreesC), concentrations of suspended solids (0-2400 mg L-1), and conductivity (10-109 muS cm(-1)). Principal component analysis (PCA) analysis of the physico-chemical variables separated the Disko Island sites into a distinct group, whereas the sites in the Kangerlussuaq area were more dispersed. 3. A total of 56 macroinvertebrate species were found, including 31 species of Chironomidae, the most abundant of which was Orthocladius thienemanni. Diamesa sp. was only the sixth most abundant chironomid taxon. Species composition varied between sites, and abundance varied from about 20 individuals m(-2) in a glacier fed stream to more than 16000 m(-2) in a lake outlet. 4. The macroinvertebrate communities of the 16 streams were separated into five TWINSPAN groups reflecting water source, irrespective of region. Lake outlets and ground-water-fed streams had the highest species richness and abundance, temperature and bed stability, while glacier-fed streams were characterized by low species richness, abundance, temperature, bed stability and high concentrations of suspended solids. Macroinvertebrate species richness was positively correlated with water temperature and negatively with bed stability. Conductivity was positively correlated with invertebrate abundance. 5. The results of this study suggest that the source of-stream water can be used to predict invertebrate community composition in Greenlandic streams and thus the effects of changes in water balance and flow regime, and to identify sites of special conservation interest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1753-1764
Number of pages12
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • Greenland
  • species richness
  • macroinvertebrates
  • streams
  • temperature


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