Chironomidae is one of the most abundant and diverse families in freshwater ecosystems, however its highly complex systematic has led to its scarce development in many limnological studies. The aim of this study was to analyze benthic and drifting Chironomidae assemblages in a mountain stream of central Argentina assessing abundance, diversity and taxa composition in different fluvial habitats and seasons. Quantitative benthic and drift samples were taken in the Achiras stream (Córdoba, Argentina) in rifles and runs, and environmental variables were measured in each season between 2007 and 2008. A total of 25 taxa were registered belonging to four subfamilies. Benthic chironomids represented 19% of the macroinvertebrate community, whereas they constituted 33% in drift. Thienemannimyia sp. dominated in benthos and Corynoneura sp. in drift. According to the two-way ANOVAs results, the highest taxonomic richness and benthic density were registered during the low flow period (autumn and winter) and the highest benthic diversity was found in riffles. On the contrary, in the drifting assemblage only evenness was different between habitats and among seasons. TWINSPAN analysis showed a spatio-temporal segregation of benthic samples, whereas drift samples were separated only temporally suggesting that the dislodgment of invertebrates downstream homogenize the spatial variation observed in benthos. Benthic and drift density varied in a similar manner through seasons and Jaccard coefficient showed a high similarity index between benthos and drift (86%). This study allowed knowing the spatio-temporal dynamic of benthic and drifting Chironomidae in a mountain stream. The increase of knowledge in relation to taxonomy, biology and ecology of Chironomidae will allow to adequate and apply management and conservation strategies of lotic ecosystems in the central region of Argentina.
Fluvial habitats; lotic ecosystem; Tanypodinae; Orthocladiinae; Chironominae