Great Basin Naturalist


Biogeographic, flow regulation (water clarity and temperature), and temporal influences affect the composition of the chironomid midge assemblage in the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead. This assemblage is dominated by euryecious Nearctic and Holarctic orthocladine taxa (23 of 38 total species, total weighted relative abundance [WRA] = 0.972) and includes a minor Neotropical component. Chironomid species richness increases over distance downstream from the dam, and dominance shifts across 3 turbidity segments. Eleven species occur in the cold-stenothermic Clearwater (CW) segment between the dam and the 1st perennial tributary (the Paria River, 26 km from the dam). Chironomid diversity increases from 18 to 24 species in the variably turbid (VT) and usually turbid (UT) segments downstream, respectively. Total Cricotopus spp. WRA is negatively correlated with distance (turbidity), white total Chironominae WRA shows the opposite pattern. In contrast to chironomid diversity, species density decreases from 0.42 species/km in the CW segment to 0.19 and 0.08 species/km in the VT and UT segments, respectively. Seasonal dominance shifts slightly from orthocladine Eukiefferiella spp. in winter (WRA = 0.101) to Cricotopus spp. (WRA = 0.165) in summer. Total WRA is lowest in spring (0.191). The assemblage is depauperate compared with other western rivers and has changed over post-dam time.