Date of Award:

1979

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Wildlife Science

Advisor/Chair:

John A. Kadlec

Abstract

A study to determine habitat differences of benthic macroinvertebrates was conducted on the upper Strawberry River, Utah. The investigation was part of a large scale project to determine minimum stream flow requirements for trout. The effects of time, habitat, depth and velocity on the distribution of benthic fauna were evaluated.

Samples of benthic invertebrates (146 total) were collected every 2 months at 8 stations on the river from November, 1975 through August, 1976. Representatives of 59 taxa were collected. Eight taxa comprised 90 percent of the mean annual community standing crop in numbers. Biomass was not dominated by any group of taxa. Community standing crop decreased from late Fall 1975 until early Summer 1976. The largest increase in standing crop occurred during August.

Prediction of benthic distribution through the use of depth and velocity categories was unsuccessful. Three-dimensional plots of the relative density of a taxon versus depth and velocity indicated the contagious nature of the animals' distributions but their preference for specific categories could not be demonstrated. The results suggested that macroinvertebrates could tolerate large variations in current and depth and that these physical factors are only indirectly related to faunal distribution.

Results of analysis of variance and covariance showed time to be the factor which influenced the distribution of most taxa (85%), followed by the time x habitat interaction (20%), velocity (18%), habitat (11%), and depth (9%). Comparisons in animal abundance were made between 4 riffles and 4 ''pools". These two habitats did not differ significantly in substrate type or velocity, however depth did show significant differences. Results of nonparametric tests suggested that the majority of taxa migrated into "pools" during periods of snow, ice, and low flows, an indication that "pools" may provide refuge to macroinvertebrates during periods of stream dewatering and diversion.

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