Hydroclimatic and hydrochemical controls on Plecoptera diversity and distribution in northern freshwater ecosystems
Alpha diversity, Catchment inter-comparison, Climate Change, Hydroclimatic, Northern temperate regions, Plecoptera, Streamflow
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.