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Stream Ecology in Glacier Catchments


Summer water temperatures are lower than winter water temperatures along the Mingyong Glacier mainstem.  This coupled with high turbidity, torrential flow, and low channel stability characterize the conditions of temperate monsoonal glacial meltwaters of southeastern Tibet.  After springtime subsidies of large woody debris and avalanches are long washed downstream into the Mekong River, what are the colonizers that remain during the harsh conditions during the ablation season in the glaciated headwaters of Yunnan Province, China?  

Several species of semivoltine invertebrate taxa remain in these glaciated metakryal zones (Tmax <2oC) which is different from most reported northern temperate glacier streams which contain mostly Diamesinae Chironomidae.  Perhaps it is the low latitude that allows for semivoltine taxa to remain in the unfrozen stream reaches near the glacier termini during the winter season.  Or is it the position of the glacier termini below the treeline that subsidizes the streams wtih allochtonous carbon?  Or perhaps periglacial groundwater streams are moderating the conditions and seeding glacialmelt streams with taxa that find refuge in the hyporheic zones?  Or is it simply the influence of biogeography - the location of these glacial meltwater streams in a hotspot of diversity within the Three Parallel River region? These are questions to be examined among glaciated catchments with disparate summer and winter conditions.

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