Effects of stream drying, season, and distance to refuge on macroinvertebrate community structure in an arid intermittent stream basin

Kelsey D. Hollien, Brian A. Gill, Drew E. Eppehimer, Michael T. Bogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intermittent streams are globally ubiquitous and represent a large percentage of stream networks. As climate change in many arid regions increases the frequency and intensity of drying disturbances, it is important to understand how aquatic biota will respond to such disturbances and how it would impact aquatic biodiversity. To address these topics, we sampled 10 stream reaches in the Sycamore Creek basin, an arid-land stream in central Arizona (USA), with reach-scale flow regimes ranging from perennial to highly intermittent. We sampled aquatic macroinvertebrates during 4 seasons to explore seasonal variability in community structure through flowing and drying phases. We also collected continuous flow data with remote data loggers to explore the impacts of intermittency and distance to perennial refuges on species richness, taxonomic composition and trait composition. Overall, richness was lower at intermittent reaches than perennial reaches, and richness values increased linearly as flow duration increased. We found no relationship between richness and distance to the nearest perennial refuge. Community assemblages differed significantly by season but were not distinct between perennial and intermittent reaches. Trait composition was also distinct between seasons and flow regimes, with traits such as a lack of diapause, longer life span and predatory feeding behaviours being indicators for perennial reaches. As climate change alters natural flow regimes, understanding the responses of macroinvertebrate community structure to drying disturbances in arid-land streams can provide insight on aquatic community responses to climate change at larger scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2598
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • intermittency
  • macroinvertebrates
  • refuge
  • seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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