Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 3095–3109 | Cite as

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

  • Claudio ValdovinosEmail author
  • Carolina Moya
  • Viviana Olmos
  • Oscar Parra
  • Bernhard Karrasch
  • Olaf Buettner
Original Paper


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.


Benthic macroinvertebrates Water-level fluctuations Lake ecosystem Chile 



We wish to thank Drs. Lizandro Chuecas and Sergio Mancinelli (University of Concepcion, Chile) and for their helpful comments pertaining to the manuscripts. We also thank Alejandro Peña, Hector Alonso, Waldo San Martin, and Miguel Vilches, for their help in the field. This work was supported by the FONDECYT (Chile) Project 1000526, DIUC (University of Concepcion) 203.310.036–1.0 and the International Scientific Program CHL00/03 between CONICYT (Chile) and BMBF (Germany).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudio Valdovinos
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carolina Moya
    • 1
  • Viviana Olmos
    • 1
  • Oscar Parra
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bernhard Karrasch
    • 3
  • Olaf Buettner
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Concepcion, EULA Center for Environmental ResearchConcepcionChile
  2. 2.Patagonian Ecosystems Research Center (CIEP)CoyhaiqueChile
  3. 3.Department of Inland Water Research MagdeburgUFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-HalleMagdeburgGermany

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