Macroinvertebrate communities of headwater streams in the Georgia Piedmont
Churchel, Melissa Ann
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The value of headwater streams has been widely recognized, but little research in these systems has been conducted in the Georgia Piedmont region. The objectives of this study were to assess the invertebrate recolonization process in streams subjected to an extreme drought, and to develop quantitative reference standards for macroinvertebrates in six Piedmont streams. In terms of drought recovery, all streams exhibited a rapid recolonization period following the onset of surface flow. Community compositions were initially similar in all streams, but after two weeks each stream began to develop unique recovery patterns. In terms of reference conditions, the streams studied were highly variable, with streams that were paired by substrate exhibiting dissimilarity. This study shows how variable communities are among streams and within individual streams. Our data indicates that potential reference streams can vary in invertebrate community compositions and that we cannot predict that variability simply by substrate alone.