Macroinvertebrate functional organization and water quality in a large arid river from Patagonia (Argentina)
LIESA. Laboratorio de Investigaciones en Ecología y Sistemática Animal, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia, Sarmiento 849, 9200 Esquel,
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The composition and abundance of functional feeding groups of the macroinvertebrate communities were investigated along the Chubut River in the Patagonian Precordillera and Plateau, Argentina. Chubut River (>1000 km) is the largest river in the area and the hydrological regime is modified in the lower section by an artificial reservoir (Florentino Ameghino Dam). Quantitative benthic samples were collected at 13 sites in the upper, middle and lower sections of the river basin. Sites were visited four times during 2004 and physicochemical parameters, chlorophyll a and particulate organic matter (POM) were assessed. In terms of relative abundance, collector-gatherers and scrapers/grazers were the predominant groups at most sites. Shredders were not abundant in the upper sites and were practically absent at middle and lower basin sites. Collector filterers that comprised more than 25 % of abundance at the pre-regulated site were practically absent right below the dam. POM biomass decreased significantly with distance from the source and chlorophyll a showed a marked increase below the reservoir. We conclude that although there was a distinct headwaters fauna in the Chubut River, and sequential downstream changes in species composition, most functional feeding groups (apart from shredders) were represented down the whole length of the river. Finally, the usefulness of biotic indices and metrics in relation with main environmental features of the Chubut River basin is discussed.
Key words: functional feeding groups / detritus / chlorophyll / river / spatial variation
© Université Paul Sabatier, 2007