Primary research paper


, Volume 610, Issue 1, pp 321-329

An experimental test of the effects of inorganic sediment addition on benthic macroinvertebrates of a subtropical stream

  • Márlon de Castro VasconcelosAffiliated withDepartamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Email author 
  • , Adriano S. MeloAffiliated withDepartamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

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Inorganic sediments of terrestrial origin may impact stream macroinvertebrate communities. Although input of terrestrial sediments to streams may occur naturally, human-induced activities in the catchment amplify this input greatly. We used an in-stream experiment to investigate whether short-term additions of terrestrial sediments of two size classes affected stream macroinvertebrates. The experiment was designed in blocks to minimize the influence of flow velocity and other environmental variables. Four treatments were employed: (i) addition of fine sand (0–0.24 mm), (ii) coarse sand (0.25–0.8 mm), (iii) fine+coarse sand, and (iv) control (water only). Macroinvertebrates were sampled immediately after the addition of sediments (or water). The experiment consisted of 20 blocks. We analyzed the response of the macroinvertebrate fauna in terms of abundance and species richness. Since species richness is strongly dependent on number of individuals sampled, we also analyzed rarefied species richness. Community structure was evaluated using a distance-based Manova on presence/absence and abundance data. The addition of coarse and fine+coarse sand reduced the abundance and species richness of macroinvertebrates in relation to the control. The response in terms of rarefied species richness in the treatments did not differ from the control, indicating that reduction in species richness was a sampling artifact resulting from decreased sample abundance. The Manova analyses indicated that coarse-sand addition caused changes in both species composition and community structure. Addition of fine and fine+coarse sand affected only slightly species composition and community structure. We concluded that even short-term input of terrestrial sediments causes impacts on benthic macroinvertebrates, and recommend that land-use management of tropical catchments should employ practices that reduce input of terrestrial sediments to streams.


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