Structural and functional responses of the oligochaete and aeolosomatid assemblage in lowland streams: a one-way-pollution-modelled ecosystem
We investigated the responses of the assemblage of Oligochaeta and Aeolosomatidae to organic pollution; comparing taxonomic richness, diversity, abundance, and diet of the individuals inhabiting two lowland streams with different degrees of anthropic impact (the Rodríguez and the Carnaval) belonging to the Río de la Plata basin, Argentina. The physicochemical parameters in the Rodríguez Stream indicated a strong deterioration of the water quality compared to that of the Carnaval. A canonical-correlation analysis indicated that the Tubificinae, Megadrili, Enchytraeidae, and Rhyacodrilinae were more closely associated with the Rodríguez Stream; whereas the Naidinae, Pristininae, and Opystocystidae were more highly represented in the Carnaval. The diversity and taxonomic richness in the Rodríguez Stream exhibited significant differences from those of the Carnaval (P<0.001), but the abundance was not different between the two sites. Schoener’s index revealed the higher degree of dietary overlap of the two streams because all the species analysed consumed a high proportion of detritus, especially the organisms in the Rodríguez. In the Carnaval Stream a higher number of alimentary items were consumed, and mainly by the Naidinae. This difference, probably reflecting the greater availability of this resource at sites impacted by organic pollution, underscores the fundamental role of oligochaetes in the food webs of aquatic ecosystems. The combined use of structural and functional parameters enables a more comprehensive view of how these lotic systems function and as such provides information that will serve to design tools for the management of such temperate environments.
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