Potential Impacts of Stream Crossing Traffic On Macroinvertebrate Communities in the Missouri Ozark River


Depending on intensity, physical disturbance can either decrease or increase diversity of stream macroinvertebrate communities. Recreational activities in parks are one component of physical disturbance. Our objective was to evaluate the effects of stream crossings and recreational traffic on macroinvertebrate assemblages. Five stream-crossing sites were sampled during winter and summer in the Current River, Ozarks National Scenic Riverways, Missouri, USA. Stream-crossing traffic was assessed using trail cameras. At each site, macroinvertebrates were collected from four locations: riffle upstream of crossing, riffle immediately downstream of crossing and second and third riffles downstream of crossing. We compared sites and locations within sites using standard metrics (taxa richness, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera richness, biotic index and diversity) and their composite stream condition index (SCI) plus multivariate analyses (Nonmetric multidimensional scaling and correlations). Stream crossings had no detectable impacts on macroinvertebrate communities in winter, but in summer location, effects were present. Patterns in SCI scores across locations varied among sites, with no consistent declines in macroinvertebrate diversity downstream of crossings. Longitudinal stream effects dominated over potential stream-crossing effects on macroinvertebrate communities. Overall, high SCI scores indicated that current levels of stream crossings and traffic in this scenic riverway do not pose a threat to macroinvertebrate communities at the spatial and temporal scale of this study.



Document Type





biotic index, disturbance, diversity, intermediate disturbance hypothesis, stream condition index

Publication Date


Journal Title

River Research and Applications