Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Explaining dissimilarities in macroinvertebrate assemblages among stream sites using environmental variables

S. Melo, Adriano

The relationship between community structure and environmental factors usually varies according to ecosystem type, group of organisms, and spatial scale. In this study I assessed whether dissimilarities among assemblages of stream macroinvertebrates are related to differences in environmental variables. Data consisted of macroinvertebrate samples of 10 stream sites during the dry season. Seven environmental variables were assessed. The relationship among dissimilarities in assemblage structure and dissimilarities in environmental variables was assessed using the BioEnv approach. Conductivity and measures related to stream size were the most important variables. However, part of the correlation with conductivity was due to the high value observed in a single stream site, which presented a relatively distinct macroinvertebrate fauna. There was an abrupt change in assemblage structure between 4th and 5th order streams. Although the study included a single 5th order site and thus only weak generalizations are possible, this finding corroborates scattered evidence observed in previous studies. The finding that nearby sites may harbor distinct macroinvertebrate assemblages implies whole-catchment conservation strategies. As most of the remaining Atlantic Rain Forest is restricted to small fragments, restoration projects near fragments should be implemented so as to properly conserve lotic ecosystems.

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