Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) was evaluated for its effectiveness in displaying factors controlling the spatial distribution of benthic insects in an oligotrophic stream where an experimental gradient (copper) that selectively affects population abundances was imposed. DCA proved to be highly sensitive to differences among samples and consistently provided ecologically meaningful species ordinations. Seasonality of taxa was the major gradient displayed by DCA prior to copper exposure when data for all sampling dates were included. Sensitivity of taxa to copper was a more important factor affecting community structure than was seasonality during periods of continuous exposure to copper (2.5 to 15 ??g l-1 CuT; approximately 12 to 75 ng l-1 Cu2+. When pre-dose data for each sampling date were ordinated independently, substratum composition and biological interactions were the major gradients displayed in species ordinations. During periods of exposure, sensitivity of taxa to copper was the primary gradient. This gradient also reflected a generally greater sensitivity to copper of herbivorous than of detritivorous or predatory benthic insects. DCA revealed the persistence, eleven months after dosing ceased, of differences in community structure between the control and high treatment (5 and 10 ??g l-1 CuT) sections. Differences between sections were not evident on this sampling date from total biomass or total density (numerical) estimates. ?? 1986 Dr W. Junk Publishers.
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Use of detrended correspondence analysis to evaluate factors controlling spatial distribution of benthic insects