11 May 2021
11 May 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Macroinvertebrate habitat requirements in rivers: overestimation of environmental flow calculations in incised rivers

Renata Kędzior1, Małgorzata Kłonowska-Olejnik2, Elżbieta Dumnicka3, Agnieszka Woś4, Maciej Wyrębek4, Leszek Książek4, Jerzy Grela5, Paweł Madej5, and Tomasz Skalski6 Renata Kędzior et al.
  • 1Department of Ecology, Climatology and Air Protection, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Land Surveying, Agricultural University of Krakow, 30059, Krakow, Poland
  • 2Centre of Research and Science Innovations, 20819, Lublin, Poland
  • 3Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Science, 31120, Krakow, Poland
  • 4Department of Hydraulic Engineering and Geotechnics, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Land Surveying, Agricultural University of Kraków Poland, 30059, Krakow, Poland
  • 5MGGP joint-stock company, 33100, Tarnów, Poland
  • 6Biotechnology Centre, Silesian University of Technology, 44100 Gliwice, Poland

Abstract. Flow variability determines the conditions of river ecosystem and river ecological functioning. The variability of ecological processes in river ecosystems gradually decreases. Prediction of the environmental flow allowing to keep biological diversity and river health develops as a response to the degradation of aquatic ecosystems overexploited by humen. The goal of the study was to test the influence of river incision on environmental flow estimation based on the macroinvertebrate BMWP_PL index. The 240 macroinvertebrate assemblages of 12 waterbodies varying in the bed substrate, amplitude of discharge were surveyed in southern Poland. The variations in the distribution of 151 466 macroinvertebrates belonging to 92 families were analysed. The similarity of benthic macroinvertebrates reflects the typological division of the rivers into three classes: mountain Tatra streams, mountain flysch rivers, and upland carbonate and silicate rivers (NMDS, ANOSIM, p < 0.001). As a response variable reflecting the macroinvertebrate distribution in the river, environmental parameters, BMWP_PL index was chosen. Our results show that the BMWP_PL index reached its highest values in shallower zones (by the shores) and at high water velocity in the Tatra Rivers or low velocity in most lowland rivers. The river incision significantly increased the values of e-flow calculations in relation to redeposited channels. The area of habitat suitability decreased with the bed incision intensity. In highly incised rivers, the environmental flow values are close to the mean annual flow, suggesting that a high volume of water is needed to obtain good macroinvertebrate conditions. As a consequence, the river downcutting processes and impoverishment of suitable habitats will proceed.

Renata Kędzior et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-196', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-196', Anonymous Referee #2, 31 Oct 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Tomasz Skalski, 30 Nov 2021

Renata Kędzior et al.

Renata Kędzior et al.


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Short summary
We modelled the environmental requirements and environmental flows for mountainous rivers macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrates mostly prefer shallower zones and high or low velocity in depending on elevation. Channel degradation (incision) significantly increased the values of e-flow allowing to reach shallower zones of the channel. We should restore the sedimentation processes in incised rivers firstly, to obtain a hydrodynamic balance and then manage the proper volume of water.