Invertebrate communities in springs across a gradient in thermal regimes

Agnes-Katharina Kreiling, Daniel P. Govoni, Snæbjörn Pálsson, Jón S. Ólafsson, Bjarni K. Kristjánsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In many respects, freshwater springs can be considered as unique ecosystems on the fringe of aquatic habitats. This integrates their uniqueness in terms of stability of environmental metrics. The main objective of our study was to evaluate how environmental variables may shape invertebrate diversity and community composition in different freshwater spring types and habitats within. In order to do so, we sampled invertebrates from 49 springs in Iceland, where we included both limnocrene and rheocrene springs. At each site, samples were taken from the benthic substrate of the spring (“surface”) and the upwelling groundwater at the spring source (“source”). To collect invertebrates from the spring sources we used a modified method of “electrobugging” and Surber sampler for collecting invertebrates from the surface. In total, 54 invertebrate taxa were identified, mostly Chironomidae (Diptera). Chironomid larvae also dominated in terms of abundance (67%), followed by Ostracoda (12%) and Copepoda (9%). The species composition in the surface samples differed considerably between rheocrene and limnocrene springs and was characterised by several indicator species. Alpha diversity was greater at the surface of springs than at the source, but the beta diversity was higher at the source. Diversity, as summarized by taxa richness and Shannon diversity, was negatively correlated with temperature at the surface. At the source, on the other hand, Shannon diversity increased with temperature. The community assembly in springs appears to be greatly affected by water temperature, with the source community of hot springs being more niche-assembled (i.e., affected by mechanisms of tolerance and adaptation) than the source community of cold springs, which is more dispersal-assembled (i.e., by mechanisms of drift and colonization).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2022


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