Glacial rivers: physical habitat and ecology

Milner, Alexander M. and Petts, Geoffrey E. (1994) Glacial rivers: physical habitat and ecology. Freshwater Biology, 32 (2). pp. 295-307. ISSN 0046-5070

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1. This review examines the physical habitat and ecology of glacial rivers which have been relatively unstudied compared with rivers originating from other sources. 2. Typical glacial rivers have summer temperatures below 10°C, a single seasonal peak in discharge, which in the Northern Hemisphere typically occurs in July, a diel fluctuation in flow which usually peaks in late afternoon, and turbidity levels in summer that exceed 30 NTU. These variables contrast with those in snowmelt/rainfall streams, particularly in summer, and make conditions more extreme for the biota. 3. Where maximum temperatures are 2°C benthic invertebrate communities are dominated by Diamcsa (Chironomidae). Downstream, temperatures increase, channels become more stable and valley floors become older. Orthocladiinae (Chironomidae), Simuliidae, Baetidae, Nemouridae and Chloroperlidae become characteristic members of the invertebrate community. 4. Fauna may be displaced, or at least colonization delayed, by channel instability; the variable age structure of the valley floor will influence the faunal gradient, which may also be reset by the effects of tributaries, lakes and valley confinement. 5. We propose a qualitative model that outlines zoobenthic community gradients determined by two principal variables, water temperature and channel stability, as a function of distance downstream, or time since deglaciation.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: University of Westminster > Science and Technology > Life Sciences, School of (No longer in use)
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2009 14:27
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2009 10:23

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