Scientific article

Disruption of a longitudinal pattern in environmental factors and benthic fauna by a glacial tributary

Published inFreshwater biology, vol. 48, no. 4, p. 604-618
Publication date2003

1. In the upper Rhone catchment (Swiss Alps), modifications in the longitudinal pattern of environmental conditions and the benthic macroinvertebrate fauna were investigated in a glacier-fed stream (Rhone) at its confluence with a smaller glacier-fed tributary (Mutt) in June, August and September 1998. The distance to the source glacier was greater for the Mutt than for the Rhone. 2. Environmental conditions were harsher for the biota in the main stream upstream of the confluence than in the tributary. The tributary upstream of the confluence was characterised by higher taxonomic richness and abundance of the zoobenthos than the Rhone upstream. 3. Although environmental conditions in the main stream were little modified by the tributary, the fauna was richer and more diverse below the confluence. During the period of ice melt, colonisation from the Mutt led to the occurrence of faunal elements atypical of glacial streams in the main glacial stream upstream of the confluence, where water temperature remains below 4C. 4. Although contributing an average of only 10% to the Rhone discharge, the Mutt tributary is suggested to be the faunal driver of the system.

  • Benthic communities
  • Confluence
  • Environmental conditions
  • Heterogeneity
  • Kryal stream
  • Swiss Alps
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - 31-52533.97
Citation (ISO format)
KNISPEL, S., CASTELLA, Emmanuel. Disruption of a longitudinal pattern in environmental factors and benthic fauna by a glacial tributary. In: Freshwater biology, 2003, vol. 48, n° 4, p. 604–618. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2427.2003.01030.x
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0046-5070

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