Excessive fine sediment accumulation (i.e., siltation) in streams and rivers originates from several human activities and globally results in heavy alterations of aquatic habitats and biological communities. In this study the correlation between fine sediment and several benthic invertebrate community metrics was tested through a manipulative approach in alpine streams, where siltation mainly results as a physical alteration (i.e., the clogging of substrate interstices) without the influence of co-occurring confounding factors. We selected 12 candidate metrics, belonging to three different categories: compositional, structural and functional. We first carried out a manipulative experiment where artificial substrates were used to provide standardized conditions of siltation. All candidate metrics were calculated for each artificial substrate and the selection of the best combination of metrics was statistically performed with an information-theoretic approach. All candidate metrics were calculated both at family level and also at a mixed level (family and genus) in order to account for the systematic resolution. Then, data from a field study on alpine streams affected by mining activities were used as independent dataset for testing the performance of the selected metrics. We found that the total taxa richness, the EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) richness and the abundance of benthic invertebrates associated to rheophilous conditions and coarse mineral substrates were the most sensitive metrics. When these metrics were aggregated into a multimetric index in the validation dataset, we observed high and significant correlations between index values and the quantity of fine sediment for both taxonomic levels, especially for the mixed level. The findings of this study provide useful tools for biomonitoring the effects of fine sediment in low order, mountainous streams and contribute to improve our diagnostic ability on stressor-specific alterations.

How to assess the impact of fine sediments on the macroinvertebrate communities of alpine streams? A selection of the best metrics

Doretto, Alberto;Piano, Elena;Bona, Francesca;Fenoglio, Stefano
2018

Abstract

Excessive fine sediment accumulation (i.e., siltation) in streams and rivers originates from several human activities and globally results in heavy alterations of aquatic habitats and biological communities. In this study the correlation between fine sediment and several benthic invertebrate community metrics was tested through a manipulative approach in alpine streams, where siltation mainly results as a physical alteration (i.e., the clogging of substrate interstices) without the influence of co-occurring confounding factors. We selected 12 candidate metrics, belonging to three different categories: compositional, structural and functional. We first carried out a manipulative experiment where artificial substrates were used to provide standardized conditions of siltation. All candidate metrics were calculated for each artificial substrate and the selection of the best combination of metrics was statistically performed with an information-theoretic approach. All candidate metrics were calculated both at family level and also at a mixed level (family and genus) in order to account for the systematic resolution. Then, data from a field study on alpine streams affected by mining activities were used as independent dataset for testing the performance of the selected metrics. We found that the total taxa richness, the EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) richness and the abundance of benthic invertebrates associated to rheophilous conditions and coarse mineral substrates were the most sensitive metrics. When these metrics were aggregated into a multimetric index in the validation dataset, we observed high and significant correlations between index values and the quantity of fine sediment for both taxonomic levels, especially for the mixed level. The findings of this study provide useful tools for biomonitoring the effects of fine sediment in low order, mountainous streams and contribute to improve our diagnostic ability on stressor-specific alterations.
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60
69
http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolind
Benthic invertebrates; Ecological assessment; Multimetric index; Rivers; Siltation; Taxonomic resolution; Decision Sciences (all); Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics; Ecology
Doretto, Alberto; Piano, Elena; Bona, Francesca; Fenoglio, Stefano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1650425
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