Is ecosystem functioning enhanced when habitat complexity increases?: River restoration and the functioning of algal and detrital food webs
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Stream restoration is a multi-million dollar business that aims at rehabilitating systems impacted by hydrogeomorphological modifications, such as channelization, and ameliorating physical or ecological degradation caused by catchment-scale impacts, such as agriculture or urbanization. Despite extensive programs aimed at restoring habitat complexity in channelized streams, there is little evidence for a recovery of biological diversity, and functional responses have been little assessed. Notably large-scale habitat restorations have recently been undertaken in a river catchment in northern Sweden, including rehabilitation of large habitat structures (massive boulders, large woody debris) originally removed to facilitate timber floating. Based on a hydrogeomorphological measure of habitat complexity, we characterised variability in habitat complexity across 20 stream reaches in the catchment, including reference, channelised and restored sites. We assessed whether increased habitat complexity following restoration affected retention of organic matter (FPOM), the functional diversity and organisation of the detritivore feeding guild, and two ecosystem processes: algal productivity and litter decomposition. Deposition of FPOM increased along the complexity gradient, as did leaf litter decomposition mediated by invertebrates. The increase in invertebrate-mediated decomposition was associated with shifts in the functional composition of detritivore assemblages, with feeding traits associated with more efficient decomposition more prominent in the restored reaches. There was no change in algal productivity at local scales, but increases in shallow, well- lit habitats favourable for algal growth indicate a possible increase in algal productivity at the stream reach scale. Increases in habitat complexity enhanced functioning within the detritital foodweb at local scales, without any changes in the biodiversity of detritivores. Our findings indicate that aspects of functional diversity and ecosystem functioning may be better than measures of community structure for assessing stream restoration projects.
Biodiversity, restoration assessments, functional diversity, functional dispersion, leaf litter decomposition, algal production, FPOM retention and deposition
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82911OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-82911DiVA: diva2:663892