Benthic Community Structure of the Green and Colorado Rivers through Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA

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Southwestern Naturalist



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We sampled the aquatic benthos at 6 remote sites on the Colorado and Green rivers through Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA. This study provides the first published description of benthic standing mass, invertebrate community composition, and primary carbon source for this portion of the Colorado River system. High suspended sediment concentrations prohibited growth of primary producers. The primary carbon source for benthic invertebrates was terrestrial organic matter. The invertebrate community was composed of 49 taxa, mostly mayflies, caddisflies, and diptera, which were dominated by filterer/collector species. A smaller portion of the community was made up of predatory stoneflies and odonates. Standing mass of invertebrates on cobble substrates within a given site was stable over the multiyear sample period (1993 through 1996) and was comparable with other southwestern streams (overall mean = 0.41 g/m(2) ash-free dry mass +/- 0.01 SE). Invertebrate standing mass at each site was controlled by the availability of primary carbon. Primary carbon availability was controlled by supply to the site and retention within the site. Both aspects might be influenced by anthropogenic alteration of the river basin and discharge patterns upstream of the study site.

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