Artificial leaf packs were used to determine the effects of an oil spill on stream macroinvertebrate communities in the Chariton River, Missouri. Plastic mesh leaf retainers with approximately 10 g of leaves from five tree species were deployed at five sites (two upstream of the spill and three downstream) immediately after the spill and one year later. Four macroinvertebrate species dominating the community at upstream sites were virtually eliminated below the spill, including the stonefly Isoperla bilineata, the caddisfly Potamyia flava, the midge Thienemanniella xena, and blackfly larvae (Simulium sp.). Density of collector and shredder functional groups, and number of shredder taxa differed between upstream sites and the two furthest downstream sites during the 1990 sample period (Kruskal-Wallis w/Bonferroni paired comparisons, experiment wise error rate = 0.05). With one exception, no differences between sites were detected in the 1991-1992 sample period, indicating that the benthic community had at least partially recovered from the oil spill after one year. The odds of obtaining a sample with a small abundance of shredders (abundance < median) in 1990 was significantly greater downstream of the spill than upstream, and the odds of obtaining a sample with a small abundance of shredders at downstream sites was greater in 1990 than in 1991-1992. A similar pattern was observed in abundance and taxa richness of the collector functional group. No significant differences between the two sampling periods were detected at upstream sites. Observed effects appeared to be associated with oil sorption and substrate coating, creating conditions unsuitable for successful colonization.
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Effects of an oil spill on leafpack-inhabiting macroinvertebrates in the Chariton river, Missouri