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Correlations of Catchment Landscape Features with Instream Environmental Conditions and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in the Lookout Creek System (Tennessee River drainage)

Amelia K. Atwell1,2 and Mark S. Schorr2,†,*

1Biology Department, Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC 29303. 2Department of Biological and Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN 37403.Deceased. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 22, Issue 4 (2023): 459–480

We sampled benthic macroinvertebrates and structural habitat characteristics in Ridge and Valley streams of the Lookout Creek watershed (Tennessee River drainage) and evaluated them in relation to landscape features in their respective drainage areas. Reach-specific estimates of EPT family richness (number of families found in the insect orders Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera) varied from 6 to 11; intolerant-family richness varied from 1 to 7. We observed relationships among catchment landscape features and stream-reach conditions (Spearman’s correlation analysis: P < 0.05). Agricultural and residential building densities in the catchment (number of building units per ha) were inversely correlated with EPT and intolerant-family richness, while streambed substrate size was directly correlated with EPT family richness. Agricultural land cover (% area) was inversely correlated with large woody structure in the stream. Findings from this study illustrate the sensitivity of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages to stream habitat degradation in relation to agricultural and residential land-use patterns in watersheds.

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