Streams dry and ecological uniqueness rise: environmental selection drives aquatic insect patterns in a stream network prone to intermittence

  • Francisco Valente-NetoEmail author
  • Fábio Henrique da Silva
  • Alan P. Covich
  • Fabio de Oliveira Roque
Primary Research Paper


The study of variation of species composition among sites is key to understanding community ecology, but few studies have assessed beta diversity patterns in highly dynamic stream networks in the Neotropical region. We assessed aquatic insect patterns of local contribution to beta diversity (LCBD) and species contribution to beta diversity (SCDB) in a Neotropical drainage network composed of both perennial and intermittent streams in a dry period. We evaluated if environmental and/or spatial predictors drive patterns of LCBD. We sampled aquatic insects in 12 intermittent headwater streams and 34 perennial streams. The intermittent compared to perennial streams had higher LCBDs and lower richness. The pure environmental component significantly explained 19% of the variation of LCBD, while the pure spatial components were not significant. Forty-six taxa contributed to beta diversity above the mean of the 199 taxa. We detected the association of oxygen tolerant and good dispersal ability taxa to intermittent streams and species riffle-adapted taxa as indicators of perennial streams. We showed a disproportional contribution of intermittent streams to the regional species pool. In summary, we demonstrated that when streams dry out, compositional uniqueness may increase during the dry period making them critical to conservation planning of dynamic stream networks.


Beta diversity Drying events Intermittent streams Neotropical streams Metacommunity ecology 



We are grateful to Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), and Fundação de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento do Ensino, Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Mato Grosso do Sul (FUNDECT) by grants that allowed the fieldwork. We are also thankful to two anonymous reviewers and to the associate editor Luis Mauricio Bini for their valuable contributions that improved this manuscript. The research was partially supported by the Long Term Ecological Research “Planalto da Bodoquena: redes de interações em longo Prazo” (CNPq-Fundect). Specifically, FVN was supported by grant number 88882.317337/2019-01, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and FOR was supported by CNPq grant.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de EcologiaUniversidade Federal de Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Entomologia e Conservação da Biodiversidade, Faculdade de Ciências Biológicas e AmbientaisUniversidade Federal da Grande DouradosDouradosBrazil
  3. 3.Odum School of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) and College of Science and EngineeringJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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