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Longitudinal extent of acidification effects of plantation forest on benthic macroinvertebrate communities in soft water streams: evidence for localised impact and temporal ecological recovery

Feeley, Hugh, Kerrigan, Caroline, Fanning, Philip, Hannigan, Edel and Kelly-Quinn, Mary 2011. Longitudinal extent of acidification effects of plantation forest on benthic macroinvertebrate communities in soft water streams: evidence for localised impact and temporal ecological recovery. Hydrobiologia 671 (1) , pp. 217-226. 10.1007/s10750-011-0719-z

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Abstract

Plantation conifer forest can increase the risk of acidification in acid-sensitive catchments with consequences for macroinvertebrates and ecosystem functioning. This study compared headwater streams in forested and non-forested catchments to appraise the distance required for the acid effect on macroinvertebrates to diminish downstream. Strict criteria were followed in the selection of paired streams, including similarities in elevation, aspect, stream order, geographical proximity, geology and soil type, with no inflowing tributaries in the first 2.5 km and no major land-use other than plantation forest and moorland. Consequently two headwater streams (one forested, one non-forested) drained Ordovician sedimentary geology and two headwater streams (one forested, one non-forested) drained Old Red Sandstone (ORS) were selected. All streams drained peaty soils. Up to six sites at 500 m intervals were sampled in triplicate by multihabitat kick sampling. Ecological impact and recovery from acid effects involved the entire macroinvertebrate community, but varied between seasons. Acid-sensitive Ephemeroptera revealed marked effects of episodic acidification, with Baetis rhodani and Rhithrogena semicolorata found to be transient between seasons. The increase in acid-sensitive ephemeropteran species with increasing distance downstream indicates the finite effects of forest mediated acidification on soft water streams in Ireland. Ecological impact appears, therefore, to be localised within the catchment, with ecological recovery occurring a short distance downstream. This is the first study to have reported such results.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: SpringerLink
ISSN: 0018-8158
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:48
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/66071

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