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The distribution of the Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) along multiple environmental gradients in lakes and ponds of the eastern Canadian Arctic

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An examination of the Chironomidae, the dominant aquatic invertebrate taxa found in Arctic lakes and ponds, was conducted to determine the environmental gradients that may limit their geographical distribution in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Subfossil chironomid head capsules, comprising 86 taxa, were sampled from surficial sediments of 63 lakes that spanned from tree line (northern Manitoba) across multiple regions within the eastern Canadian Arctic. Water chemistry and environmental data were then compared with chironomid assemblages using multivariate analysis. The distribution of chironomids was found to primarily follow a temperature gradient, but additional significant relationships were also found along a nutrient–productivity gradient. Several species of the Tribe Chironomini, which generally represent warm-water adapted taxa, were also found far beyond tree line in the southern Kivalliq region of Nunavut, indicating a more northerly range than previously known. While temperature and trophic status were found to strongly influence the distribution of some taxa, partially constrained gradient analysis indicates that specific chironomid taxa could be used to indicate a primary response to climate regardless of trophic status. This may allow for more holistic inferences of how aquatic communities may respond to climate change as the range of temperature dependant species expand into Arctic systems.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2011

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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