Effects of anthropogenic impacts on benthic macroinvertebrates assemblages in subtropical mountain streams

Efecto de los impactos antrópicos sobre los ensambles de macroinvertebrados bentónicos en ríos subtropicales de montaña

The nature of the riparian and surrounding landscape has been modified by anthropogenic activities, which may subsequently alter the composition and functional structure of macroinvertebrate assemblages. The effect of these changes on function of benthic fauna is difficult to assess due to the scarce knowledge on functional structures in tropical streams. In this study we evaluate whether sites impacted and unimpacted by anthropogenic alterations differed in assemblage composition and density, richness and diversity of each functional feeding group. The selection of the sites was related to their distinct riparian characteristics, following the QBRy riparian quality index. Collector-gatherer was the dominant functional feeding group, comprising 91% of total density, whereas the proportion of shredders was very low, representing less of 0.5% of total density. Asemblage composition of macroinvertebrates differed between impacted and unimpacted sites. Predators were dominant in taxa number, representing about 60% of total taxa richness. In addition, the diversity and richness of collector-gatherers differed significantly between degraded and unimpacted sites, reflecting the sensitivity of this group to environmental changes and the utility to be used in the assessment of anthropogenic modifications. The results of this study reinforce the idea that riparian corridor management is critical for the distribution of macroinvertebrate assemblages as well as functional organization of lotic streams.

Anthropogenic changes; Argentina; lotic streams; mountain basin; riparian quality index

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