Meta-Community Theory and Stream Restoration: Evidence That Spatial Position Constrains Stream Invertebrate Communities in a Mine Impacted Landscape


Mining activities, particularly acid mine drainage, often result in adverse effects on stream diversity and ecosystem functioning, and increased concern about these effects has generated a focus on restoration of mine-impacted waterways. However, many stream restoration projects have not led to increased stream diversity and ecological recovery. One reason for this failure may be that restoration practitioners focus on local environmental conditions and fail to consider the importance of dispersal as a driver of stream invertebrate composition. To test this hypothesis, we used a meta-community analysis to compare the influence of the local stream conditions with the regional supply of colonists. Invertebrate communities and physico-chemical conditions were sampled in 37 streams across a mine-impact gradient on the Stockton Plateau, West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. We found that pH, temperature, dissolved metals, and sediment significantly influenced invertebrate community composition. Furthermore, the spatial location of streams was a good predictor of stream diversity and invertebrate communities, independent of local environmental conditions. This result indicates an important role for regional dispersal barriers in determining stream invertebrate communities. Consequently, consideration of both the locations and strategic preservation of future colonist source streams and potential dispersal barriers during mine planning would enhance post-mining restoration.


Biological Sciences

Keywords and Phrases

Acid Mine Drainage; Community Composition; Dispersal; Environmental Conditions; Invertebrate; Restoration Ecology; Stream; Nelson; New Zealand; South Island; Stockton Plateau; Invertebrata; Mass Effects; Rehabilitation; Stream Diversity

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Article - Journal

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© 2015 Wiley-Blackwell, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2015