Comparison of decapod communities across an urban-forest land use gradient in Puerto Rican streams
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Urbanization influences a range of factors related to stream health, including the hydrologic regime, water quality, and riparian conditions that lead to negative effects on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. However, impacts on freshwater decapods from urbanization of tropical streams have not been reported. We hypothesized that changes in decapod communities in watersheds with different levels of urbanization are related to changes in physical stream habitats caused by different land uses and their effects on water discharge. The impacts of land use on the physico-chemical characteristics of streams and freshwater decapod communities were evaluated in three watersheds characterized by low, moderate and high-intensities of urbanization in Puerto Rico. For the low and moderately developed urban watersheds, decapod species richness ranged from 10 to 11 species; the highly urbanized watershed only had 4 species. Macrobrachium faustinum and Xiphocaris elongata were the most ubiquitously species and were found in all watersheds. Multivariable analysis of physical characteristics and densities of the decapod families resulted in one axis that explained 80 % of the total variation among the watersheds and was correlated with stream discharge. The effect of discharge is likely a result of frequent high flows that sustain habitats with high concentrations of dissolved oxygen and low concentrations of pollutants. An increase in physico-chemical parameters were observed from the LUW to the HUW. These results indicate that the decapod communities were most likely influenced by land use and environmental conditions that affected erosional aspects related to water discharge and water quality in the highly impacted watersheds.
KeywordsAtya Epilobocera Macrobrachium Species diversity Urban streams Xiphocaris
We thank the people who assisted us, with special appreciation for the fieldwork done by Pablo J. Hernández-García, Carlos A. Rosado Berríos, Francisco J. Pérez and José A. Rivera. Our urban studies benefited from collaborations with research groups organized by Alonso Ramírez, University of Puerto Rico, and Ariel E. Lugo, International Institute of Tropical Forestry. This research was supported by grants BSR-8811902, DEB 9411973, DEB 0080538, DEB 0218039, and DEB 0620910 from National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico, and to the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, as part of the Long-Term Ecological Research Program in the Luquillo Experimental Forest. Also this study was partially supported by the San Juan- ULTRA Project (NSF Grant 0948507), USDA Forest Service and the University of Puerto Rico.
All benefits in any form from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript or any of the authors must be acknowledged. For each source of funds, both the research funder and the grant number should be given.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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