The importance of artificial drains for macroinvertebrate biodiversity in reclaimed agricultural landscapes

Gething, K.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4997-0249 and Little, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-5715-7429, 2020. The importance of artificial drains for macroinvertebrate biodiversity in reclaimed agricultural landscapes. Hydrobiologia. ISSN 0018-8158

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Artificial drainage networks, ubiquitous within lowland agricultural landscapes in Europe and North America, exhibit a range of physical and chemical conditions, and may provide important habitat for aquatic organisms. Drains share hydromorphological characteristics with both lotic rivers and lentic ditches, potentially providing opportunities for a diverse range of taxa. However, little is known about the communities they support. A 23-year benthic macroinvertebrate dataset from four English catchments was used to determine the contributions of drains to biodiversity in a reclaimed agricultural landscape through a comparison of catchments, drain and river channels. A lack of significant differences in gamma diversity and high compositional overlap between rivers and drains showed that drains were not depauperate, and consistently contributed a richness comparable to that of rivers. High-compositional overlap suggested that drains from different catchments contributed comparably to aquatic biodiversity at the landscape scale. Significant differences in environmental conditions (inferred from biotic indices) between catchments may have marginally increased landscape gamma diversity through turnover. Despite similarities in community composition, non-native species were less abundant in drains. This study demonstrates the importance of drains for habitat provision in intensively farmed catchments, and highlights the need for focused research into their management and conservation potential.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Hydrobiologia
Creators: Gething, K.J. and Little, S.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 12 June 2020
ISSN: 0018-8158
Rights: © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 18 Jun 2020 15:18
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 13:29

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