PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Ecology - Science Policy

Drivers and Spatio-Temporal Extent of Hyporheic Patch Variation: Implications for Sampling
Published: Monday, July 30, 2012
Author: Alexander Braun et al.

by Alexander Braun, Karl Auerswald, Juergen Geist

The hyporheic zone in stream ecosystems is a heterogeneous key habitat for species across many taxa. Consequently, it attracts high attention among freshwater scientists, but generally applicable guidelines on sampling strategies are lacking. Thus, the objective of this study was to develop and validate such sampling guidelines. Applying geostatistical analysis, we quantified the spatio-temporal variability of parameters, which characterize the physico-chemical substratum conditions in the hyporheic zone. We investigated eight stream reaches in six small streams that are typical for the majority of temperate areas. Data was collected on two occasions in six stream reaches (development data), and once in two additional reaches, after one year (validation data). In this study, the term spatial variability refers to patch contrast (patch to patch variance) and patch size (spatial extent of a patch). Patch contrast of hyporheic parameters (specific conductance, pH and dissolved oxygen) increased with macrophyte cover (r2?=?0.95, p<0.001), while patch size of hyporheic parameters decreased from 6 to 2 m with increasing sinuosity of the stream course (r2?=?0.91, p<0.001), irrespective of the time of year. Since the spatial variability of hyporheic parameters varied between stream reaches, our results suggest that sampling design should be adapted to suit specific stream reaches. The distance between sampling sites should be inversely related to the sinuosity, while the number of samples should be related to macrophyte cover.