The objective of this study was to evaluate benthic macroinvertebrate communities as bioindicators of water quality in five streams located in the "Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural" (RPPN) Mata Samuel de Paula and its surroundings, in the municipality of Nova Lima near the city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, southeastern Brazil. This region has been strongly modified by human activities including mining and urbanization. Samples were collected in the field every three months between August 2004 and November 2005, totaling six samplings in the rainy and dry seasons. This assessment identified one area ecologically altered while the other sampling sites were found to be minimally disturbed systems, with well-preserved ecological conditions. However, according to the Biological Monitoring Work Party (BMWP) and the Average Score Per Taxon (ASPT) indices, all sampling sites had excellent water quality. A total of 14,952 organisms was collected, belonging to 155 taxa (148 Insecta, two Annelida, one Bivalvia, one Decapoda, one Planariidae, one Hydracarina, and one Entognatha). The most abundant benthic groups were Chironomidae (47.9%), Simuliidae (12.3%), Bivalvia (7.5%), Decapoda (6.1%), Oligochaeta (5.2%), Polycentropodidae (3.7%), Hydropsychidae (2.5%), Calamoceratidae (1.8%), Ceratopogonidae (1.7%), and Libellulidae (1.2%). The assessment of the benthic functional feeding groups showed that 34% of the macroinvertebrates were collector-gatherers, 29% predators, 24% collector-filterers, 8% shredders, and 5% scrapers. The RPPN Mata Samuel de Paula comprises diversified freshwater habitats that are of great importance for the conservation of many benthic taxa that are intolerant to organic pollution.
Benthic inventory; biodiversity; seasonal distribution; protected areas; functional feeding groups