The macroinvertebrate communities of two contrasting Norwegian glacial rivers in relation to environmental variables
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1. Macroinvertebrate communities in two Norwegian glacial rivers, one in the western fjords (Dalelva) and one in the eastern mountains (Leirungsåi), were investigated during three time periods in 1996 and 1997. 2. Channel stability variables (substratum heterogeneity/Pfankuch index/hydraulic stress) and water temperature accounted for 54% of the total inertia in the principal components analysis (PCA) ordination of environmental variables. The importance of these variables was confirmed by cluster analysis. 3. The two rivers were well separated in the ordinations, with Leirungsåi showing much greater heterogeneity. This is explained by differences in altitudinal range, terrestrial vegetation and the importance and nature of tributary inputs. 4. Channel stability and temperature were also important in determining faunal communities in the two glacial rivers, supporting the main determining variables in the conceptual model of glacial streams (29). However, clear temporal differences were apparent in the data, the two rivers being more similar during the summer period of high discharge dominated by glacial meltwater. During spring and especially during autumn environmental conditions and the macroinvertebrate fauna differed both within and between rivers. 5. Diamesinae dominated in the upper reaches of both rivers, with Orthocladiinae becoming more common downstream. The dominance of Diamesinae persisted further down Dalelva because of the continued influence of glacial tributaries, whereas in Leirungsåi the influence of non‐glacial tributaries led to a change towards a greater proportion of Orthocladiinae. Lakes modified macroinvertebrate communities in both river systems.