Great Basin Naturalist


Macroinvertebrate communities were examined on 4 winter dates over a 4-yr period in 2 high-altitude Rocky Mountain streams to document overwintering assemblages potentially experiencing spring acid pulses. Taxa richness values were comparable to other published lists for alpine and montane stream systems despite the fact that most literature reflected summer collections. Mean benthic density ranged from 1406 to 19,734 organisms/m2, and drift rates ranged from 0 to 1740 organisms/100 m3. Benthic collections showed higher taxa richness than drift collections while the Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera occurred in greater proportions in drift than in benthos. The Nemouridae (Plecoptera), Ephemerellidae and Heptageniidae (Ephemeroptera), Chironomidae (Diptera), and Hydracarina were the numerically dominant taxa in benthic collections. Grazer/scrapers and shredder/detritivores were always the numerically dominant functional feeding groups at all sites, composing 60–90% of the benthos. Predators, constituting approximately 15% of the community, occurred in the same relative proportion at all sites on all dates. Winter macroinvertebrate communities in these low-order, montane streams exhibit high taxonomic richness and benthic densities as great as lower-elevation mountain streams in the West.