We evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively the community structure of aquatic insects (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera) in 19 streams in areas of Cerrado in the Paraguay, Paraná, and São Francisco river basins. The number of genera and taxonomic composition were compared at spatial (at the hydrographic basins level) and conservation levels (more preserved and less preserved areas). The influence of spatial and environmental factors in richness and abundance was also evaluated. The geographical distribution of Grumicha, Coryphorus, and Austrotinodes was expanded. The highest Trichoptera richness was found in the São Francisco river basin (F = 5,602, p = 0,004) and a higher number of Ephemeroptera genera occurred in the relatively less preserved sites (F = 6,835, p = 0,009). The pattern of genera distribution was different among basins (R = 0,0336, p = 0,001), but it was similar among relatively less and more preserved areas (R = -0,039, p = 0,737). These findings can be explained by the low impact level in these streams and also by the taxonomic resolution used in this study. Latitude and instream diversity were the most important factors to explain the variation in genera richness and abundance (p = 0.004 and p = 0.026, respectively). Hence, the regional differences can be attributed to spatial influences, quantity or quality of habitats and the original distribution of taxa within each basin.
benthic macroinvertebrates; EPT; biomonitoring; conservation