During late September 1996, approximately 7000 m3 of clay- to gravel-sized sediment was flushed from Halligan Reservoir, Larimer County, Colorado, into the North Fork Cache la Poudre River during dam inspections. Approximately 9.6 km of this river was partially or completely affected by this episodic sediment release. Pools up to 3.2 km downstream from the dam lost 50% of their volume. Hess samples taken from October 1996 to September 1997, 100 m downstream from the dam (site 1) and 3.2 km downstream (site 2), revealed effects of sediment on recovery patterns of benthic communities. A 2-way ANOVA was used to determine significant interactions using site and date as main factors. Pairwise differences were then compared using least squares means to determine significant dates within and between sites. Ten days after the sediment release, both density and taxa richness at site 1 (55 organisms per m2, 5 taxa) were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than site 2 (1156 organisms per m2, 25 taxa). These differences remained until June when species richness and densities increased. Plecoptera and Trichoptera colonized from June to September after being eliminated at site 1 and reduced at site 2. No permanently flowing tributaries exist within the study area; therefore, passive downstream drift from such inputs apparently did not influence recovery. Increased densities of taxa such as Baetidae, Hydroptilidae, Hydropsychidae, Chironomidae, Simuliidae, and Oligochaeta occurred plausibly by rapid reproduction. Based on pre-event data, community function completely changed at site 2 from a scraper community to one dominated by collector-gatherers.
Zuellig, Robert E.; Kondratieff, Boris C.; and Rhodes, Howard A.
"Benthos recovery after an episodic sediment release into a Colorado Rocky Mountain river,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 62:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol62/iss1/7