, Volume 545, Issue 1, pp 289-302

Recovery of the macroinvertebrate community below a wastewater treatment plant input in a Mediterranean stream

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

We sampled chlorophyll a, benthic organic matter, and benthic macroinvertebrates in June 2001 in La Tordera stream (Catalonia, NE Spain), receiving a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) input. Samples were collected in six equidistant transects in three reaches located upstream (UP), few m below (DW1), and 500 m below the WWTP input (DW2). Our first objective was to assess the effects of the point source on the structure and functional organization of the benthic macroinvertebrate community. Our second objective was to determine if the self-purifying capacity of the stream implied differences between the communities of the DW1 and the DW2 reaches. The WWTP input highly increased discharge, nutrient concentrations, and conductivity and decreased dissolved oxygen. At the DW1 and the DW2 reaches, taxa richness, EPT taxa (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera), and Shannon diversity decreased and gatherer relative density increased relative to the UP reach. At the UP reach, CPOM and FPOM standing crops were similar, whereas at the DW1 and the DW2 reaches CPOM was two times higher than FPOM. Detailed analysis showed that major changes in the benthic community occurred abruptly between 80 and 90 m downstream of the point source (middle of the DW1 reach). At this location, chlorophyll a concentration, density of macroinvertebrates, taxa richness, and scraper relative density increased, whereas gatherer relative percentage decreased. The macroinvertebrate community at the DW2 reach was comparable to that at the second middle of the DW1 reach (DW1B). The macroinvertebrate community at the DW1B and the DW2 reaches were quite similar to that at the UP reach, indicating that the recovery capacity of the stream from nutrient enrichment was high.