Stream bed metal deposits affect the taxon richness, density and taxonomic diversity of primary and secondary producers by a variety of direct or indirect abiotic and biotic processes but little is known about the relative importance of these processes over a deposit metal concentration gradient. Inorganic matter (IM), algal, and non-photosynthetic detrital (NPD) dry biomasses were estimated for 10 monthly samples, between 2007 and 2008, from eight sites differing in deposit density. Invertebrate abundance, taxon richness and composition were also determined. Relations between these variables were investigated by canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), generalized estimating equation models and path analysis. The first CCA axis correlates with deposit density and invertebrate abundance, with lumbriculids and chironomids increasing in abundance with deposit density and all other taxa declining. Community structure changes significantly above a deposit density of approximately 8 mg cm-2, when algal biomass, invertebrate richness and diversity decline. Invertebrate richness and diversity were determined by direct effects of NPD biomass and indirect effects of IM. Algal biomass only had an effect on invertebrate abundance. Possible pH, oxygen, food and ecotoxicological effects of NPD biomass on the biota are discussed.
- Metal deposits • Invertebrate richness and composition • Algal biomass • Non-photosynthetic detrital biomass • Direct and indirect pathways