, Volume 435, Issue 1-3, pp 167-175

Benthic macroinvertebrate communities of intermittent streams in the middle reaches of the Guadiana Basin (Portugal)

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Abstract

The Guadiana River has an irregular hydrological regime, with severe droughts and floods, but little is known about how aquatic fauna respond to these natural events. Macroinvertebrate data and environmental information were collected at seven sites from three tributaries in the middle reaches of the Guadiana River, approximately every 3 months from April 1995 to April 1997. Despite considerable annual variation in discharge (related to duration of flood and drought periods), the number of macroinvertebrates found was consistently high. Diptera represented the major proportion of the benthic fauna (73.2%) followed by Ephemeroptera (10.3%), Coleoptera (4.1%) and Trichoptera (3.1%). Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) was used to evaluate the relationships between taxa density and habitat variables. Generally, Plecoptera and Ephemeroptera were found in the upstream sampling sites. Wider and deeper sites were associated with the presence of Diptera and were least diverse. High values for both the Shannon-Wiener diversity index and the average score per taxon were usually found at upstream sites where Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera predominated. The data suggest that macroinvertebrates have a great capacity to recover rapidly from severe drought periods, both in terms of taxonomic diversity and number of individuals.