The aquatic insect community is an important element for stream functionality and diversity, but the effects of altitude and conservation areas on the aquatic insect community have been poorly explored in neotropical ecozone. The lack of studies about the relative importance of space and environment on community structure is another obstacle within aquatic insect ecology, which precludes the inclusion of these studies in more current frameworks, like the metacommunity dynamics. We evaluated the relationship between the aquatic insect community structure at 19 streams in the Brazilian Cerrado and spatial and environmental variables, namely geographical distance among sites, stream altitude, chemical variables, and environmental protection areas. We partitioned the variance explained by spatial and environmental components using a partial redundancy analysis. The environment exhibited a strong spatial structure for abundance and number of genera, increasing these community parameters with elevated water conductivity. Only community composition had a large unexplained portion of variance, with a small portion constrained by environmental (altitude and conductivity) and spatial factors. A relevant point in the result was the streams with high conductivity were located outside of the conservation areas. These results suggest that the relationship between number of genera and abundance with environmental conditions is always associated with spatial configuration of streams. Our study shows that altitude is an important determinant of community structure, as it exerts indirect influences, and electrical conductivity directly determines community composition, and that some national parks may be inefficient in maintaining the diversity of aquatic insects in the Cerrado region.
Aquatic insects turnover altitude limnology spatial ecology conservation areas
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We want to thank Tadeu Siqueira and Juliana Simião Ferreira for the great contribution in reviewing the manuscript and for the constructive comments. We also thank Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA), Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (IBAMA), for granting the license (number: 19999–1) to sample at the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park (CVNP) and all the park staff for the support in logistics. This study was supported by research grants from CNPq (process 475355/2007-5) and UFPA (process 01/2014 - PROPESP/FADESP).
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