Landscape-scale influences on stream habitats and biota

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The relative influence of geologic versus anthropogenic attributes of catchments on stream ecosystems was examined in 45 catchments of a river basin in central Michigan. Each catchment was characterized by land use, surficial geology, elevation, and hydrography, and summaries of these data were related to physical habitat characteristics that had the greatest influence on macroinvertebrate assemblages. Partial redundancy analysis revealed that geologic and land-use variables had similar magnitudes of influence on stream habitats. Of the geologic variables, catchment area, proportion of lacustrine clays, and glacial outwash materials had the strongest influence on physical habitat, particularly on channel dimensions. Row-crop agriculture and the presence of wetlands were the most important land-use variables, particularly influencing amounts of woody debris. Stream buffers (100 m) were more important than whole catchment data for predicting sediment-related habitat variables; however, channel morphology was more strongly related to whole catchments. Results suggest that catchment-wide geology and land-use characteristics may be more important than stream buffers for maintaining or restoring stream ecosystems. These techniques can be used to develop biologic signatures of catchment condition that discriminate causal factors influencing the biodiversity and health of stream ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-311
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996


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