Seasonal responses of lentic midge assemblages to environmental gradients

James H. Thorp, Ronald K. Chesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We examined biotic and abiotic factors associated with density and diversity of larval midges (Diptera: Chironomidae) in the littoral zone of Par Pond, an 1100 ha cooling reservoir located near Aiken, South Carolina, USA. A total of 144 core samples were removed from 12 areas during each of 3 sample periods. Principal component analysis. Mantel analysis, and various univariate statistical tests were used to detect seasonal differences in (1) associations among areas and genera of Chironomidae, and (2) responses of midges to a multi‐faceted environmental gradient. Water temperature, which in this case was a function of both season and thermal effluents, was the factor most strongly associated with relative changes in density and diversity within the chironomid assemblages. Plant biomass and/or plant diversity were significant factors correlated with midge density and diversity. Both particle size and organic content of the substratum, which varied little across stations, were relatively unimportant factors. Despite the presence of a multifaceted environmental gradient, the composition and relationships within the midge assemblages were remarkably similar across areas although total abundance and diversity varied. On the basis of their similarity in structure and function, we classify the midge assemblages within the reservoir as members of the same community. However, in response to dissimilar or unequal selective forces (principally the area‐specific effects of thermal effluents), these assemblages appear to behave environmentally as multiple units rather than as a single component of the benthic community in Par Pond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1983


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