Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Small streams (first- through third-order streams) make up >98% of the total number of stream segments and >86% of stream length in many drainage networks. Small streams occur over a wide array of climates, geology, and biomes, which influence temperature, hydrologic regimes, water chemistry, light, substrate, stream permanence, a basin's terrestrial plant cover, and food base of a given stream. Small streams are generally most abundant in the upper reaches of a basin, but they can also be found throughout the basin and may enter directly into larger rivers. They have maximum interface with the terrestrial environment, and in most temperate and tropical climates they may receive large inputs of terrestrial, or allochthonous, organic matter (e.g., leaves, wood) from the surrounding plant communities. In locations with open canopies such as grasslands and deserts, autochthonous or primary production in the form of algae, or higher aquatic plants, may serve as the main food base. Hence, headwater streams display a diverse fauna, which is often adapted to physical, chemical, and biotic conditions of the region.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Wallace, J. Bruce; Eggert, S.L. 2009. Benthic invertebrate fauna, small streams. Encyclopedia of Inland Waters. 2: 173-190.

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page