Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 3095-3109

The importance of water-level fluctuation for the conservation of shallow water benthic macroinvertebrates: an example in the Andean zone of Chile

  • Claudio ValdovinosAffiliated withUniversity of Concepcion, EULA Center for Environmental ResearchPatagonian Ecosystems Research Center (CIEP) Email author 
  • , Carolina MoyaAffiliated withUniversity of Concepcion, EULA Center for Environmental Research
  • , Viviana OlmosAffiliated withUniversity of Concepcion, EULA Center for Environmental Research
  • , Oscar ParraAffiliated withUniversity of Concepcion, EULA Center for Environmental ResearchPatagonian Ecosystems Research Center (CIEP)
  • , Bernhard KarraschAffiliated withDepartment of Inland Water Research Magdeburg, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle
  • , Olaf BuettnerAffiliated withDepartment of Inland Water Research Magdeburg, UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle

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Abstract

Many researchers have shown the importance of water chemistry and benthic habitat characteristics for the conservation of the freshwater macroinvertebrate biodiversity. However, few authors have examined the physical effect of extreme water-level fluctuations in lakes. The present study set out to determine, through a comparative study between a regulated lake (Laja Lake, LL) and an unregulated lake (Icalma Lake, IL) of the Andean zone of southern Chile, how man-made disturbances of the natural hydrological regime affect the structure of the benthic macroinvertebrate community. The results showed LL had very low values for species richness, density and biomass in comparison with IL, and the community was composed mainly of few individuals belonging to opportunistic taxa such as Chironomidae and Naididae. We suggest that the low values in the regulated lake are potentially explained by littoral zone factors driven by the water-level fluctuations such as: desiccation, freezing of the biota, removal of organic particles from the sediment and absence of aquatic macrophytes.

Keywords

Benthic macroinvertebrates Water-level fluctuations Lake ecosystem Chile