Hydroclimatic and hydrochemical controls on Plecoptera diversity and distribution in northern freshwater ecosystems

Laura M. Kruitbos*, Doerthe Tetzlaff, Chris Soulsby, Jim Buttle, Sean K. Carey, Hjalmar Laudon, Jeffrey J. McDonnell, Kevin McGuire, Jan Seibert, Richard Cunjak, Jamie Shanley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Freshwater ecosystems in the mid- to upper-latitudes of the northern hemisphere are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change as slight changes in air temperature can alter the form, timing, and magnitude of precipitation and consequent influence of snowmelt on streamflow dynamics. Here, we examine the effects of hydro-climate, flow regime, and hydrochemistry on Plecoptera (stonefly) alpha (α) diversity and distribution in northern freshwater ecosystems. We characterized the hydroclimatic regime of seven catchments spanning a climatic gradient across the northern temperate region and compared them with estimates of Plecoptera genera richness. By a space-for-time substitution, we assessed how warmer temperatures and altered flow regimes may influence Plecoptera alpha diversity and composition at the genus level. Our results show wide hydroclimatic variability among sites, including differences in temporal streamflow dynamics and temperature response. Principal component analysis showed that Plecoptera genera richness was positively correlated with catchment relief (m), mean and median annual air temperature (°C), and streamflow. These results provide a preliminary insight into how hydroclimatic change, particularly in terms of increased air temperature and altered streamflow regimes, may create future conditions more favorable to some Plecopteras in northern catchments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Issue number1
Early online date15 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

Bibliographical note

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-012-1383-7.

Acknowledgments: We thank the Leverhulme Trust for funding the North-Watch project (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/northwatch/). This paper evolved from discussions at an international workshop titled “Hydroecological responses to climate change in northern catchments” which was held in Aviemore, Scotland, 29 August to 1 September, 2010. We thank Klement Tockner (Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin), Philip Wookey (University of Stirling), Angela Gurnell (Queen Mary, University of London), Iain Malcolm and Phil Bacon (Marine Scotland) who participated in this workshop and contributed to presentations and discussions valuable to this work. We would also like to thank Nikolai Friberg (Aarhus University, National Environmental Research Institute) for his time and useful comments he provided to this manuscript. We are also grateful to two anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions, Alison Sandison for the preparation of the map, and Alan Herlihy and Tina Garland (Oregon State University) for their assistance in providing us with data for Mack Creek, HJ Andrews. This paper represents contribution number 120 of the Catamaran Brook Research Project.


  • Catchment inter-comparison
  • Northern temperate regions
  • Hydroclimatic
  • Streamflow
  • Plecoptera
  • Alpha diversity
  • Climate change


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