In some arid, semi-arid or Mediterranean climate regions, increased water extraction combined with climate change will prolong periods of drought in non-perennial streams, but the effects on macroinvertebrate populations are poorly understood. Drought refuges allow species to survive drying but their use depends on species' traits, and refuge availability depends on landscape structure. This review evaluates the utility of existing ecological concepts for predicting the role of drought refuges for sustaining biodiversity in non-perennial streams. We also suggest traits that may determine invertebrate species' resistance or resilience to prolonged drying. Parts of the likely responses by populations to increased stream drying are described by existing ecological concepts, such as the biological traits of species and their interaction with the habitat templet, barriers to dispersal and metapopulation dynamics, the use of drought refuges, habitat fragmentation and population and landscape genetics. However, the limited knowledge of invertebrate life histories in non-perennial streams restricts our ability to use these concepts in a predictive manner. In particular, reach or pool occupancy by species cannot be accurately predicted, but such predictions are necessary for evaluating potential management actions such as the use of environmental flows to sustain drought refuges during dry periods. � CSIRO 2011.