The characteristics of stream and river ecosystems in arctic and alpine areas are determined mainly by the relative contribution of glacial meltwater, snowmelt, rainfall and groundwater. Each source generates a particular seasonal hydrological signature, affecting physical and chemical properties, and hence biological communities. The relative contribution of each source is sensitive to climate change. The study was concentrated on the glacial River W-Jökulsá and some non-glacial rivers in the central highlands of Iceland. The water in the glacial river was entirely glacial meltwater at the glacier margin, but the glacial contribution was about 20% 40 km downstream. However, its tributaries and non-glacial reference rivers were mainly springfed. The invertebrate fauna was confined to Chironomidae of the genus Diamesa close to the glacier, but other taxa (species and groups of species) occupied the river further downstream, where their diversity was close to that found in the reference rivers.

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