We compared the accuracy, precision, and efficiency of 2 timesaving techniques to a standard laboratory procedure for processing benthic samples used to estimate secondary production. In the coarse-sieve technique, production was quantified from invertebrate biomass collected in a 2-mm sieve and corrected for retention probabilities of individual organisms. In the sieve-fractionated technique, production per sieve was quantified from the total biomass and average body mass of organisms collected in a geometric series of 9 sieves. Production estimates for the entire assemblage (coarse-sieve: r2 = 0.96, sieve-fractionated: r2 = 0.99, n = 57) and for individual taxa (coarse-sieve: r2 = 0.84, n = 308; sieve-fractionated: r2 = 0.99, n = 544) were strongly related to production estimates derived from standard processing techniques. The analytical error introduced by coarse-sieve (entire assemblage: residual mean square [RMS] = 0.014, individual taxa: RMS = 0.001) and sieve-fractionated (entire assemblage: RMS = 0.070, individual taxa: RMS = 0.0004) techniques was insignificant relative to the variance of production estimates among replicates (entire assemblage = 0.150, individual taxa = 0.329). Coarse-sieve and sieve-fractionated techniques required, on average, only 18% and 63% of the time required for standard processing, respectively, but coefficients of variation for production means of the entire assemblage differed by <1% between standard and timesaving techniques. These timesaving techniques for processing benthic samples increase the feasibility of studies of secondary production that require multiple sampling sites and dates, and thus, should further our understanding of the mechanisms that control stream productivity.
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