Upper thermal tolerances of key taxonomic groups of stream invertebrates

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Southwestern Australia has already undergone significant climatic warming and drying and water temperatures are increasing particularly in small streams where riparian vegetation has been cleared. The ability to predict how freshwater fauna may respond to these changes requires understanding of their thermal tolerances. A review of relevant literature and laboratory testing of four aquatic species from southwestern Australia were used to compare upper thermal tolerance (UTT) among key taxonomic groups. UTT for selected species determined by LT50 tests were similar to that of species tested elsewhere. Mean UTT, based on relevant literature and LT50 experiments, ranged from 22.3°C for Ephemeroptera to 43.4°C for Coleoptera. Mean UTT for both Coleoptera and Odonata (41.9°C) were significantly higher than those for all the other groups (22.3-31.5°C) with the exception of Planaria. The mean UTT value of 22.3°C for Ephemeroptera was significantly lower than for Decapoda (29.6°C), Trichoptera (30.1°C) and Mollusca (31.5°C). For three insect orders tested, eurytherms had significantly higher UTT values than stenotherms. The variation in UTT among taxa suggests that additional thermal shifts, caused by riparian disturbance and/or climate change, are likely to create novel assemblages due to the replacement of temperature-sensitive taxa by more tolerant taxa. This has implications for the sustainability of regionally important endemic cool water species. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-140
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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