Macroinvertebrate community structure and function associated with large wood in low gradient streams

Lucinda B Johnson, Dan H. Breneman, Carl Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Large woody debris (wood) plays a number of important roles in forested stream ecosystems. Wood in streams provides habitat and flow refugia for fish and invertebrates, and is a site of biofilm production that serves as food for grazing organisms. Logs added to streams are rapidly colonized by invertebrates, and this habitat alteration is accompanied by changes in community composition and functional processes. A multiple habitat, qualitative sampling approach was employed to evaluate macroinvertebrate communities associated with wood habitats in 71 stream reaches in central Michigan and southeastern Minnesota, two agricultural regions in the midwestern United States. Macroinvertebrate taxa were classified with respect to behaviour (e.g. sprawler, clinger, swimmer), as well as trophic/feeding characteristics. These traits were used to examine community structure as a function of wood abundance and distribution. Although wood is not abundant in these streams and logs are generally small in size, wood is a very important habitat in both Michigan and Minnesota: 86% and 95% of the total taxa encountered at Michigan and Minnesota study sites, respectively, were found in wood habitats. Differences in regional patterns in the distribution of taxa across habitats were observed between Michigan and Minnesota. These are believed to result from differences in the number of habitat types available, and the dominant substrate composition. Local invertebrate diversity increased in Michigan, but not Minnesota, with the presence of wood habitats in streams. The presence of wood at a site increased the average taxa richness by 15 and 10 taxa in Michigan and Minnesota, respectively. Macroinvertebrate behavioural attributes and functional traits associated with wood habitats suggest that community traits may vary due to both local difference in flow and the location of wood in the channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-218
Number of pages20
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Community structure
  • Macroinvertebrate
  • Role of wood
  • Species traits
  • Stream
  • Wood
  • Woody debris


Dive into the research topics of 'Macroinvertebrate community structure and function associated with large wood in low gradient streams'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this