Benthic Fauna of Streams

  • Robert G. Wetzel
  • Gene E. Likens


Stream invertebrates are well adapted to the running water environment. The dominant taxa in headwater streams include the immature stages of the insect orders Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), Trichoptera (caddisflies), Megaloptera, Coleoptera (beetles), and certain Diptera. Many other types of invertebrates, attached and planktonic algae, rooted vascular plants, and various vertebrates also are common in streams of higher order. All of these organisms have certain traits that enable them to maintain their position and survive in rapidly flowing waters. Some mayflies (e.g., Heptageniidae) have become dorsoventrally flattened. Although they inhabit very rapid water, these mayflies live close to the substrate where the water velocity is nearly zero (Fig. 5.3). Many caddisflies (e.g., Limnephilidae) build elaborate cases that not only protect them from predators but also serve as ballast against the current or as attachment points on rocks. Others (Hydropsychidae) build intricate nets on submersed rocks and logs to catch food particles that are being transported downstream. Certain dipteran larvae (e.g., Blepharoceridae) have specialized suckers that are used to attach to the substrate. The common black fly larvae (Simuliidae) spin silk pads and attach themselves to rock surfaces by this means. [See Hynes (1970) for extensive treatment of this subject.]


Benthic Invertebrate Aquatic Insect Artificial Substrate Benthic Fauna Stream Ecosystem 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Wetzel
    • 1
  • Gene E. Likens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Ecosystem StudiesThe New York Botanical Garden, Cary ArboretumMillbrookUSA

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