Acta Limnologica Brasiliensia
On-line version ISSN 2179-975X
CORTELEZZI, Agustina et al. Different levels of taxonomic resolution in bioassessment: a case study of oligochaeta in lowland streams. Acta Limnol. Bras. [online]. 2011, vol.23, n.4, pp. 412-425. Epub June 14, 2012. ISSN 2179-975X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S2179-975X2012005000020.
AIM: This study evaluated the use of oligochaetes at different levels of taxonomic resolution as environmental indicators in Argentine lowland streams affected by different land uses. METHODS: Sampling sites were grouped based on the physicochemical and habitat characteristics (low-, moderate-, and high-impact disturbance). Collection of the oligochaetes samples was carried out seasonally in sediment and vegetation habitats. RESULTS: The increases in nutrients and organic matter produced elevated densities of the Oligochaeta, but when the disturbance also involved changes in the physical habitat or enhancements in toxic substances, the abundance decreased significantly to values even lower than those of non-impacted environments. The responses of Naidinae and Tubificinae were similar. The density of the Pristininae decreased with increasing impact, but those of the Enchytraeidae and Rhyacodrilinae increased at the most highly impacted sites. The Opistocystidae were not recorded in high-impact sites. Species richness and diversity (H') were lower in high-impact sites and even lower in sediments. Some species presented no restrictions in the habitat type or with the contamination level: Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri, Dero furcatus, D. digitata, D. pectinata, Pristina longiseta, and P. aequiseta. Moreover, Trieminentia corderoi, Slavina appendiculata, and Aulodrilus pigueti exhibited the highest abundances at low-impact sites and were not registered in high-impact sites. CONCLUSIONS: The Oligochaeta show a relatively wide ecological valence through their extensive number of species. Although lower taxonomic levels can give information about environmental status, test-species' sensitivities to different types and degrees of contamination will be of utmost relevance to the evaluation of ecological quality.
Keywords : annelids; land use; habitat preferences; sediment; macrophyte.