We examined the ecological distribution of macroalgal communities in streams using species groups (taxonomic units = algal phyla, and morphological = morphological types) with similar structures and functions instead of the species themselves. The study was conducted from June to July/2007 in two drainage basins located in mid-southern region of Paraná State , Brazil. Evaluations of macroalgal communities took into consideration the following spatial scales: the drainage basin (the Pedras river and Marrecas river basins), shading regime (open and shaded stream segments), mesohabitats (riffles and pools), and microhabitats (sampling units of 0.05m2). A total of 29 taxa (23 subgeneric, one generic, and five vegetative groups) were identified. On these, 12 taxa belong to Chlorophyta, 11 to Cyanobacteria, four to Heterokontophyta, and two to Rhodophyta. The proportions of morphological types were: 24% free filaments, 17.25% mats, tufts, gelatinous colonies, and gelatinous filaments, 7% crusts. In terms of spatial scales, we observed a predominance of Chlorophyta in open stream segments and Cyanobacteria in shaded stream segments, reflecting the loss of competitive advantage of green algae in sites with low energy availability. In the mesohabitats, the morphological types recorded in pools were predominantly poorly adapted to fast currents (free filaments), while those found in riffles (mats, tufts and gelatinous filaments) were highly resistant to fast water flows. As such, the use of species groupings based on algal taxonomy associated with morphological characteristics proved to be useful to understanding the distributions of these organisms in lotic environments.
distribution; functional group; macroalgae; stream