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NEARSHORE LITTORAL BENTHIC MACROINVERTEBRATE COMMUNITIES OF MOUNTAIN LAKES AND RESERVOIRS IN THE WESTERN US: IMPLICATIONS FOR BIOASSESSMENT AND MONITORING

Mehling, M. G.;

Mountain lake shorelines are ecotones with high diversity and productivity, but are often zones of intense human activity and modification. In comparison with other aquatic habitats, much less is known about lake shorelines, their ecology, human influences and cascading effects on connected habitats. Focusing on lakes and reservoirs of the central Sierra Nevada ecoregion (CA/NV), this research examined nearshore littoral benthic macroinvertebrate community structure in relation to environmental variables at multiple scales – in-lake water chemistry to watershed land use to ecological subregion. Abundance and composition were found to most strongly reflect littoral mesohabitat and riparian land use. Within-lake spatial and temporal distribution of nearshore littoral benthic macroinvertebrates were also compared in a subset of lakes. There was little annual variation in composition, lentic and lotic habitats had distinct communities, and increasing plot size did not provide a substantial sampling benefit. The results support the potential of benthic macroinvertebrates to serve as bioindicators of localized change due to littoral or riparian modification. The knowledge gained from this research will assist in further development of regional lake research, assessment and monitoring.


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