Analysis of Longitudinal Zonation and the River Continuum Concept in the Oldman–South Saskatchewan River System

  • Culp J
  • Davies R
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During the summer-fall periods, the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of the Oldman-South Saskatchewan River system demonstrated a longitudinal zonation related to the subalpine forest, fescue prairie and mixed prairie terrestrial ecosystems through which it flows. This zonation was primarily attributable to significant downstream increases in periphyton biomass, plant nutrients and water temperature. Zonation was reduced in the late winter-spring periods and absent in May, during spring runoff. Longitudinal trends in macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups generally followed the predictions of the river continuum concept, with trophic composition apparently more strongly affected by autotrophic processes in the summer and heterotrophic processes in the winter. By combining the river continuum concept with a watershed classification system based on geology, climate, soil type and terrestrial vegetation, biological comparisons of longitudinal zonation are enhanced.

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  • Joseph M. Culp

  • Ronald W. Davies

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