Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 554–564 | Cite as

Macroinvertebrate distribution and aquatic ecology in the Ruoergai (Zoige) Wetland, the Yellow River source region

  • Na ZhaoEmail author
  • Mengzhen Xu
  • Zhiwei LiEmail author
  • Zhaoyin Wang
  • Hanmi Zhou
Research Article


The Ruoergai (Zoige) Wetland, the largest plateau peatland in the world, is located in the Yellow River source region. The discharge of the Yellow River increases greatly after flowing through the Ruoergai Wetland. The aquatic ecosystem of the Ruoergai Wetland is crucial to the whole Yellow River basin. The Ruoergai wetland has three main kinds of water bodies: rivers, oxbow lakes, and marsh wetlands. In this study, macroinvertebrates were used as indicators to assess the aquatic ecological status because their assemblage structures indicate long-term changes in environments with high sensitivity. Field investigations were conducted in July, 2012 and in July, 2013. A total of 72 taxa of macroinvertebrates belonging to 35 families and 67 genera were sampled and identified. Insecta was the dominant group in the Ruoergai Basin. The alpha diversity of macroinvertebrates at any single sampling site was low, while the alpha diversity on a basin-wide scale was much higher. Macroinvertebrate assemblages in rivers, oxbow lakes, and marsh wetlands differ markedly. Hydrological connectivity was a primary factor causing the variance of the bio-community. The river channels had the highest alpha diversity of macroinvertebrates, followed by marsh wetlands and oxbow lakes. The density and biomass of Gastropoda, collector filterers, and scrapers increased from rivers to oxbow lakes and then to marsh wetlands. The river ecology was particular in the Ruoergai Wetland with the high beta diversity of macroinvertebrates, the low alpha diversity of macroinvertebrates, and the low taxa richness, density, and biomass of EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera). To maintain high alpha diversity of macroinvertebrates macroinvertebrates in the Ruoergai Wetland, moderate connectivity of oxbow lakes and marsh wetlands with rivers and measures to control headwater erosion are both crucial.


macroinvertebrates aquatic ecology hydrological connectivity Ruoergai Wetland Yellow River source 


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This study was financially supported by the Key Research Project of the Higher Education Institutions of Henan Province (16A416002), the Doctoral Scientific Research Foundation of Henan University of Science and Technology (13480017), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91547112), the Foundation of the Yellow River Institute of Hydraulic Research (No. HKY-JBYW-2016-03), and the International Science & Technology Cooperation Program of China (2014DFG72010).


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Agricultural EngineeringHenan University of Science and TechnologyLuoyangChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Hydraulic Engineering, Key Laboratory of Water Sediment Sciences and Water Disaster Prevention of Hunan ProvinceChangsha University of Science & TechnologyChangshaChina

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