Glacier–groundwater stress gradients control alpine river biodiversity

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Glacier–groundwater stress gradients control alpine river biodiversity. / Khamis, Kieran; Brown, Lee E.; Hannah, David M.; Milner, Alexander M.

In: Ecohydrology, Vol. 9, No. 7, 01.10.2016, p. 1263-1275.

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@article{8fc006f565be4f9a8a106088957ba44c,
title = "Glacier–groundwater stress gradients control alpine river biodiversity",
abstract = "In alpine river networks, water source (i.e. snow, ice or groundwater) plays a major role in influencing flow regimes, benthic habitat and macro-invertebrate community structure. Across these systems, a natural stress gradient can be conceptualized, from rivers fed exclusively by meltwater (harsh habitat) to those with no melt input (relatively benign, groundwater fed). However, despite the current context of rapid glacier retreat, our understanding of linkages between meltwater contributions, physico-chemical habitat and biodiversity remains limited. To address this research gap, habitat characteristics and macro-invertebrate community structure were studied at 26 sites (five river basins) in the French Pyr{\'e}n{\'e}es across a meltwater gradient from 0% to 99%. A combination of generalized regression models and multivariate analyses showed that the stress gradient was associated with the following: (i) linear responses of key physico-chemical habitat variables, in particular bed stability, (ii) unimodal responses at the community level (e.g. richness and total density peaks at 40–60% meltwater contribution), and (iii) both unimodal and monotonic responses at the level of individual taxa. Sites characterized by high contributions of meltwater, although species poor, were important for beta diversity because of their specialist endemic fauna. Our findings suggest that continued glacier and snowpack retreat due to expected future climate change are likely to lead to more homogeneous alpine river habitats (i.e. reduced meltwater–groundwater stress gradient breadth). As a result, increased alpha diversity is expected as previously harsh habitats become more favourable; however, an associated decrease in beta diversity is likely as glacial stream specialists become replaced by generalists.",
keywords = "beta diversity, climate change, glacier retreat, harsh–benign hypothesis, macro-invertebrates, stress gradients",
author = "Kieran Khamis and Brown, {Lee E.} and Hannah, {David M.} and Milner, {Alexander M.}",
year = "2016",
month = oct,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1002/eco.1724",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
pages = "1263--1275",
journal = "Ecohydrology",
issn = "1936-0584",
publisher = "Wiley",
number = "7",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Glacier–groundwater stress gradients control alpine river biodiversity

AU - Khamis, Kieran

AU - Brown, Lee E.

AU - Hannah, David M.

AU - Milner, Alexander M.

PY - 2016/10/1

Y1 - 2016/10/1

N2 - In alpine river networks, water source (i.e. snow, ice or groundwater) plays a major role in influencing flow regimes, benthic habitat and macro-invertebrate community structure. Across these systems, a natural stress gradient can be conceptualized, from rivers fed exclusively by meltwater (harsh habitat) to those with no melt input (relatively benign, groundwater fed). However, despite the current context of rapid glacier retreat, our understanding of linkages between meltwater contributions, physico-chemical habitat and biodiversity remains limited. To address this research gap, habitat characteristics and macro-invertebrate community structure were studied at 26 sites (five river basins) in the French Pyrénées across a meltwater gradient from 0% to 99%. A combination of generalized regression models and multivariate analyses showed that the stress gradient was associated with the following: (i) linear responses of key physico-chemical habitat variables, in particular bed stability, (ii) unimodal responses at the community level (e.g. richness and total density peaks at 40–60% meltwater contribution), and (iii) both unimodal and monotonic responses at the level of individual taxa. Sites characterized by high contributions of meltwater, although species poor, were important for beta diversity because of their specialist endemic fauna. Our findings suggest that continued glacier and snowpack retreat due to expected future climate change are likely to lead to more homogeneous alpine river habitats (i.e. reduced meltwater–groundwater stress gradient breadth). As a result, increased alpha diversity is expected as previously harsh habitats become more favourable; however, an associated decrease in beta diversity is likely as glacial stream specialists become replaced by generalists.

AB - In alpine river networks, water source (i.e. snow, ice or groundwater) plays a major role in influencing flow regimes, benthic habitat and macro-invertebrate community structure. Across these systems, a natural stress gradient can be conceptualized, from rivers fed exclusively by meltwater (harsh habitat) to those with no melt input (relatively benign, groundwater fed). However, despite the current context of rapid glacier retreat, our understanding of linkages between meltwater contributions, physico-chemical habitat and biodiversity remains limited. To address this research gap, habitat characteristics and macro-invertebrate community structure were studied at 26 sites (five river basins) in the French Pyrénées across a meltwater gradient from 0% to 99%. A combination of generalized regression models and multivariate analyses showed that the stress gradient was associated with the following: (i) linear responses of key physico-chemical habitat variables, in particular bed stability, (ii) unimodal responses at the community level (e.g. richness and total density peaks at 40–60% meltwater contribution), and (iii) both unimodal and monotonic responses at the level of individual taxa. Sites characterized by high contributions of meltwater, although species poor, were important for beta diversity because of their specialist endemic fauna. Our findings suggest that continued glacier and snowpack retreat due to expected future climate change are likely to lead to more homogeneous alpine river habitats (i.e. reduced meltwater–groundwater stress gradient breadth). As a result, increased alpha diversity is expected as previously harsh habitats become more favourable; however, an associated decrease in beta diversity is likely as glacial stream specialists become replaced by generalists.

KW - beta diversity

KW - climate change

KW - glacier retreat

KW - harsh–benign hypothesis

KW - macro-invertebrates

KW - stress gradients

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84991232387&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1002/eco.1724

DO - 10.1002/eco.1724

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84991232387

VL - 9

SP - 1263

EP - 1275

JO - Ecohydrology

JF - Ecohydrology

SN - 1936-0584

IS - 7

ER -