Benthic community structure in two adjacent streams in Yellowstone National Park five years after the 1988 wildfires

Minshall, G.W., Robinson, C.T., Royer, T.V. and Rushforth, S.R.

The Great Basin Naturalist, Vol. 55 Issue 3 pp. 193-200

1995

Physical characteristics, benthic macroinvertebrates, and periphyton assemblages in two adjacent headwater streams in Yellowstone National Park were evaluated five years after the 1988 wildfires. The catchment of one stream was burned by wildfire (burned stream) while the other catchment was unburned (unburned stream). Physical measures revealed channel alteration in the burned stream relative to the unburned stream. Periphyton biomass was lower in the burned than the unburned stream (29.2 vs. 50.5 g/m² AFDM, respectively), further demonstrating the unstable physical conditions of that system. Kendall's coefficient of concordance (an index of similarity) between diatom assemblages was 0.22, indicating distinct assemblage composition between streams. Navicula permitís Hust was the most abundant diatom in the burned stream while Hannaea arcus (Ehr.) Patr. was dominant in the unburned stream. Macroinvertebrate taxa richness, density, and biomass were all greater in the unburned stream, although Chironomidae was the most abundant taxon in both streams. Results suggest the removal of terrestrial/riparian vegetation by wildfire can directly influence stream benthic assemblages by altering the inherent disturbance regime of the physical habitat templet.

Patrick Cross1995