Benthic algal assemblages, water chemistry, and habitat were characterized at 25 stream sites in the Willamette Basin, Oregon, during low flow in 1994. Seventy-three algal samples yielded 420 taxa - Mostly diatoms, blue-green algae, and green algae. Algal assemblages from depositional samples were strongly dominated by diatoms (76% mean relative abundance), whereas erosional samples were dominated by blue-green algae (68% mean relative abundance). Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) of semiquantitative and qualitative (presence/absence) data sets identified four environmental variables (maximum specific conductance, % open canopy, pH, and drainage area) that were significant in describing patterns of algal taxa among sites. Based on CCA, four groups of sites were identified: Streams in forested basins that supported oligotrophic taxa, such as Diatoma mesodon; small streams in agricultural and urban basins that contained a variety of eutrophic and nitrogen-heterotrophic algal taxa; larger rivers draining areas of mixed land use that supported planktonic, eutrophic, and nitrogen-heterotrophic algal taxa; and streams with severely degraded or absent riparian vegetation (> 75% open canopy) that were dominated by other planktonic, eutrophic, and nitrogen-heterotrophic algal taxa. Patterns in water chemistry were consistent with the algal autecological interpretations and clearly demonstrated relationships between land use, water quality, and algal distribution patterns.
Additional Publication Details
Relations of habitat-specific algal assemblages to land use and water chemistry in the Willamette Basin, Oregon