, Volume 717, Issue 1, pp 65–84 | Cite as

Linking forest harvest and landscape factors to benthic macroinvertebrate communities in the interior of British Columbia

  • Holly J. Coe
  • Xiaohua Wei
  • Peter M. Kiffney
Primary Research Paper


Detecting the magnitude of human-induced disturbance events, such as forest harvest, on biological communities is often confounded by other environmental gradients and scales at which these effects are examined. In this study, benthic invertebrates were collected from 43 streams across four basins and two geographic regions to (1) determine whether invertebrate abundance and community structure are best explained by historic forest harvest, landscape variables or a combination of both, and (2) evaluate associations among harvest, landscape variables, in-stream physical habitat, and invertebrates. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling showed that invertebrate community structure was primarily explained by watershed area and elevation, and basin and region but not by measures of forest harvest. Model selection using an information-theoretic approach and Akaike’s information criterion indicated that watershed area was the most important variable explaining clinger and long-lived taxa richness, while basin was the most important variable explaining total abundance, and total, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera taxa richness. Forest harvest ranked lower than landscape variables in relative importance in all models. These results suggest that landscape characteristics were relatively more important in predicting invertebrate community structure than forest harvest, and should therefore be considered when assessing the impacts of both reach and watershed scale forest harvest on benthic communities. Perhaps, the levels of forest harvest examined in this study had only marginal effects on benthic invertebrates because these ecosystems are naturally resilient as a result of frequent disturbance from forest fires.


Forest harvest effects Landscape variation Benthic macroinvertebrates Community structure 



This study was funded by a grant from the Forest Science Program, British Columbia Ministry of Forests. The authors would like to thank Gordon Guest for assistance in field data collection, and Dr. Tim Beechie and four anonymous reviewers for providing valuable and constructive comments on this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10750_2013_1573_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holly J. Coe
    • 1
  • Xiaohua Wei
    • 2
  • Peter M. Kiffney
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Northwest Fisheries Science CenterNOAA FisheriesSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada
  3. 3.Northwest Fisheries Science CenterNOAA FisheriesMukilteoUSA
  4. 4.Faculty of Forestry and Wildlife ManagementHedmark University CollegeElverumNorway

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