University of Oulu

Turunen, J., Muotka, T. & Aroviita, J. Aquatic bryophytes play a key role in sediment-stressed boreal headwater streams. Hydrobiologia 847, 605–615 (2020).

Aquatic bryophytes play a key role in sediment-stressed boreal headwater streams

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Author: Turunen, Jarno1; Muotka, Timo1,2; Aroviita, Jukka1
Organizations: 1Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, PO Box 413, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, PO Box 8000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-04-03


Forestry-related land use can cause increasing instream sedimentation, burying and eradicating stream bryophytes, with severe ecological consequences. However, there is limited understanding of the relative roles and overall importance of the two frequently co-occurring stressors, increased fine sediments and loss of bryophytes, to stream biodiversity and ecosystem functions. By using random forest modeling and partial dependence functions, we studied the relative importance of stream bryophytes and fine sediments to multiple biological endpoints (leaf-decaying fungi, diatom, bryophyte, and benthic macroinvertebrate communities; leaf decomposition) using field survey data from headwater streams. Stream bryophyte abundance and richness were negatively related to fine sediment cover, highlighting the detrimental effect of sedimentation on bryophytes. However, bryophyte abundance was consistently more important a determinant of variation in community composition than was fine sediment cover. Leaf decomposition was influenced by shredder abundance, water temperature and, to a lesser degree, stream size. Our results suggest that the loss of stream bryophytes due to increasing sedimentation, rather than fine sediments per se, seems to be the key factor affecting multiple biological responses. Enhancing the re-establishment of bryophyte stands could partly compensate for the negative impacts of sedimentation on bryophytes and, consequently, on several other components of boreal stream ecosystems.

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Series: Hydrobiologia
ISSN: 0018-8158
ISSN-E: 1573-5117
ISSN-L: 0018-8158
Volume: 847
Pages: 605 - 615
DOI: 10.1007/s10750-019-04124-w
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was funded by the Academy of Finland (AKVA Grant No. 263597) and the MARS project (Managing Aquatic ecosystems and water Resources under multiple Stress) funded under the 7th EU Framework Program, Theme 6 (Environment Including Climate Change), Contract No.: 603378 (
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.