, Volume 566, Issue 1, pp 75–90 | Cite as

Relationships among biological elements (macrophytes, macroinvertebrates and ichthyofauna) for different core river types across Europe at two different spatial scales

  • Paulo Pinto
  • Manuela Morais
  • Maria Ilhéu
  • Leonard Sandin


The objective of this study was to evaluate differences in correlations among Biological Elements and environmental parameters for different river types, analysed at two different spatial scales. A total of 82 sites, with at least good ecological status, were sampled across Europe, representing three core river types: Mountain rivers (26 sites); Lowland rivers (29 sites) and Mediterranean rivers (17 sites). At each site samples of macrophytes, macroinvertebrates and fishes were taken during spring, following the methodological procedures established by the European STAR project. Environmental parameters were also recorded, based on a site protocol developed by the European projects AQEM and STAR. Environmental parameters were divided into three categories: aquatic habitats (mesohabitat scale), global features (reach scale) and obligatory typology parameters of Water Framework Directive (WFD) (geographical scale). Data were analysed to evaluate at the two scales, first, relationships among biological elements, and second, relationships between biological elements and environmental parameters. Within each river type, correlation matrices (Bray–Curtis distance) were calculated separately for each biological element and for each category of environmental parameters. All biological elements were correlated (p<0.01) to the larger spatial scale: macrophytes and macroinvertebrates are more correlated in lowland and mountain rivers, while in Mediterranean rivers, fish and macrophytes presented higher correlations. These links tend to be consistent for different spatial scales, except if they are weak on a larger regional scale, obligatory parameters of WFD were, in most cases, significantly correlated with the three biological communities (p<0.05). Results at different spatial scales supported the hierarchical theory of river formation. Reach and mesohabitat environmental parameters tend to explain aquatic communities at a lower spatial scale, while geographical parameters tend to explain the communities at a major spatial scale.


macrophytes macroinvertebrates fishes mantel correlations lotic ecosystems spatial scale linkages 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allouche, S. 2002Nature and function of cover for riverine fishBulletin Francais de La Peche et la Pisciculture356297324Google Scholar
  2. AQEM consortium, 2002. Manual for the application of the AQEM system. A comprehensive method to assess European streams using benthic macroinvertebrates, developed for the purpose of the Water Framework Directive. Version 1.0 February 2002Google Scholar
  3. Armitage, P. D. 1995Faunal Community change in response to flow manipulationHarper, D. M.Ferguson, J. D. eds. The Ecological Basis of River ManagementJohn Wiley & SonsNew York5978Google Scholar
  4. Armitage, P. D., Cannan, C. E. 2000Annual changes in summer patterns of mesohabitat distribution and associated macroinvertebrate assemblagesHydrological Processes1431613179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Armitage, P. D., Gunn, R. J. M. 1996Differential response of benthos to natural and anthropogenic disturbances in 3 lowland streamsInternationale Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologia81161181Google Scholar
  6. Balci, P., Kennedy, J. H. 2003Comparison of chironomids and other macroinvertebrates associated with Myriophyllum spicatum and Heteranthera dubiaJournal of Freshwater Ecology18235247Google Scholar
  7. Beisel, J. N., Usseglio-Polaterra, P., Thomas, S., Moretou, J. C. 1998Stream community structure in relation to spatial variation: the influence of mesohabitat characteristicsHydrobiologia3897388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernardo, J. M., Ilhéu, M., Matono, P., Costa, A.M. 2003Interannual variation of fish assemblage structure in a Mediterranean river: implications of streamflow on the dominance of native or exotic speciesRiver Research and Application19112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bio, A. M. F., Becker, P., Bie, E., Huybrechts, W., Wassen,  M. 2002Prediction of plant species distribution in lowland river valleys in Belgium: modelling species response to site conditionsBiodiversity and Conservation1121892216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, K. R., Warwick, R. M. 1980Changes in Marine Communities: An Approach to Statistical Analysis and InterpretationNatural Environmental CouncilUKGoogle Scholar
  11. Casas, J. 1997Invertebrate assemblages associated with plant debris in a backwater of a mountain stream: natural leaf packs vs. debris damJournal of Freshwater Ecology123949Google Scholar
  12. Cheruvelil, K. S., Soranno, P. A., Serbin, R. D. 2000Macroinvertebrates associated with submerged macrophytes: sample size and power to detect effectsHydrobiologia441133139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crook, D. A., Robertson, A. I., King, A. J., Humphries, P. 2001The influence of spatial scale and habitat arrangement on diel patterns of habitat use by two lowland river fishesOecologia129525533Google Scholar
  14. Dahl, J., Greenberg, L. A. 1998Effects of fish predation and habitat type on stream benthic communitiesHydrobiologia3616776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Furse, M., D. Hering, O. Moog, P. Verdonschot, R. K. Johnson, K. Brabec, K. Gritzalis, A. Buffagni, P. Pinto, N. Friberg, J. Murray-Bligh, J. Kokes, R. Alber, P. Usseglio-Polatera, P. Haase, R. Sweeting, B. Bis, K. Szoszkiewicz, H. Soszka, G. Springe, F. Sporka, I. Krno, 2006. The STAR project: context, objectives and approaches. Hydrobiologia 566: 3–29Google Scholar
  16. Ilhéu, M., 2004. Patterns of habitat use by freshwater fishes in Mediterranean rivers. PhD Thesis, University of Évora, ÉvoraGoogle Scholar
  17. Jensen, M. E., Bourgeron, P., Everett, R., Goodman, I. 1996Ecosystem management: a landscape ecology perspectiveWater Research32203216Google Scholar
  18. Johnson, L. B., Breneman, D. H., Richards, C. 2003Macroinvertebrate community structure and function associated with large wood in low gradient streamsRiver Research and Applications19199218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li, J. L., Herlihy, A., Gerth, W., Kaufmann, P., Gregory, S., Urquhart,  S., Larsen, D. P. 2001Variability in stream macroinvertebrates at multiple spatial scalesFreshwater Biology46187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Petts, G. E. 2000A perspective on the abiotic process sustaining the ecological integrity of running watersHydrobiologia422/4231527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Reichard, M., Jurajda, P., Ondrackova, M. 2002Interannual variability in seasonal dynamics and species composition of drifting young-of-the-year fishes in two European lowland riversJournal of Fish Biology6087101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reyjol, Y., Compin, A., Ibarra, A., Lim, P. 2003Longitudinal diversity patterns in streams: comparing invertebrates and fish communitiesArchiv fur Hydrobiologie157525533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rosenfeld, J. S. 1997The effect of large macroinvertebrate herbivores on sessile epibenthos in a mountain streamHydrobiologia3447579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Smith, H., Wood, P. J., Gunn, J. 2003The influence of habitat structure and flow permanence on invertebrate communities in karst spring systemsHydrobiologia5105366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stanley, E. H., Buschman, D. L., Boulton, A. J., Grimm, N. B., Fisher, S. G. 1994Invertebrate resistance and resilience to intermittency in a desert streamAmerican Midland Naturalist131288300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Strayer, D. L., Lutz, C., Malcom, H. M., Munger, K., Shaw, W. H. 2003Invertebrate communities associated with a native (Vallisneria americana) and an alien (Trapa natans) macrophyte in a large riverFreshwater Biology4819381949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shoup, D.E., Carlson, R. E., Heath, R. T. 2003Effects of predation risk and foraging return on the diel use of vegetated habitat by two size-classes of bluegillsTransactions of the American Fisheries Society132590597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. ter Braak, C. J. F., Smilauer, P. 1998‘CANOCO Reference Manual and User’s Guide to Canoco for Windows’Microcomputer PowerIthaca, New York351Google Scholar
  29. Tolonen, K. T., Hamalainen, H., Holopainen, I. J., Mikkonen, K., Karjalainen, J. 2003Body size and substrate association of littoral insects in relation to vegetation structureHydrobiologia499179190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Townsend, C. R. 1989The patch dynamic concept of stream community ecologyJournal of North American Benthological Society83650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Townsend, C. R., Hidrew, A. G., Francis, J. 1983Community structure in some southern English streams: the influence of physicochemical factorsFreshwater Biology13521544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vannote, R. L., Minshall, G. W., Cummins, K. W., Sedell, J. R., Cushing, E. 1980The river continuum conceptCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences37130137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Verdonschot, P. F. 2000Integrated ecological assessment methods as a basis for sustainable catchment managementHydrobiologia422/423389412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Verdonschot, P. F. M. 2006Evaluation of the use of Water Framework Directive typology descriptors, reference sites and spatial scale in macroinvertebrate stream typologyHydrobiologia5663958Google Scholar
  35. Verdonschot, P. F., Nijboer, R. C. 2004Testing the European stream typology of the water framework directive for macroinvertebratesHydrobiologia5163554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vieira, N. K. M., Clements, W. H., Guevara, L. S., Jacobs, B. F. 2004Resistance and resilience of stream insect communities to repeated hydrologic disturbances after a wildfireFreshwater Biology4912431259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Voelz, N. J., McArthur, J. V. 2000An exploration of factors influencing lotic insect species richnessBiodiversity and Conservation915431570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wagner, F. H., Bretschko, G. 2003Riparian trees and flow paths between the hyporheic zone and groundwater in the Oberer Seebach, AustriaInternational Review of Hydrobiology88129138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ward, J. V. 1989The four dimensional nature of lotic ecosystemsJournal of North American Benthological Society828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ward, J. V., Tockner, K. 2001Biodiversity: towards a unifying theme for river ecologyFreshwater Biology46807819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Warfe, D. M., Barmuta, L. A. 2004Habitat structural complexity mediates the foraging success of multiple predator speciesOecologia141171178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Weigel, B. M., Wang, L. Z., Rasmussen, P. W., Butcher, J. T., Stewart, P.␣M., Simon, T. P., Wiley, M. J. 2003Relative influence of variables at multiple spatial scales on stream macroinvertebrates in the Northern Lakes and Forest ecoregion, USAFreshwater Biology4814401461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Willis, S. C., Winemiller, K. O., Lopez-Fernandez, H. 2005Habitat structural complexity and morphological diversity of fish assemblages in a Neotropical floodplain riverOecologia142284295PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wright, J. F., Gunn, R. J. M., Winder, J. M., Wiggers, R., Vowles,  K., Clarke, R. T., Harris, I. 2002A comparison of the macrophyte cover and macroinvertebrate fauna at three sites on the River Kennet in the mid 1970s and late 1990sScience of the Total Environment282121142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wright, K. K., Li, J. L. 2002From continua to patches: examining stream community structure over large environmental gradientsCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences5914041417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zimmer, K. K. D., Hanson, M. A., Butler, M. G. 2003Relationships among nutrients, phytoplankton, macrophytes, and fish in prairie wetlandsCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences60721730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zrum, L., Hann, B. J. 2002Invertebrates associated with submersed macrophytes in a prairie wetland: effects of organophosphorus insecticide and inorganic nutrientsArchiv fur Hydrobiologie154413445Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo Pinto
    • 1
  • Manuela Morais
    • 1
  • Maria Ilhéu
    • 1
  • Leonard Sandin
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre of Applied Ecology, Water LaboratoryUniversity of ÉvoraÉvora codexPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Environmental AssessmentSwedish University of Agriculture SciencesUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations