Hydrological alterations in Alpine rivers have been largely increasing due to the combined effects of global climate change and local impacts. Water flow intermittency starts with a process called lentification, which leads to the transformation of the aquatic ecosystem with severe consequences on biotic communities. These consequences have a greater impact in Alpine headwater streams, which are considered important and fragile hotspots of biodiversity and a source of threatened species; the new regime creates conditions to which native biota are poorly adapted. The main aim of our work was to evaluate taxonomical, functional and structural changes of diatom communities in Alpine rivers during the lentification process that precedes a supra-seasonal drought. Contrary to what was expected, communities exposed to river shrinking showed a level of homogeneity comparable to those collected in permanent sections. We therefore hypothesized that lentification created an intermediate disturbance that favoured heterogeneity of assemblages. Conversely, ecological guilds, growth forms and eco-morphological groups varied along temporal and spatial gradients driven by the lentification process. Small, motile and medium-sized low profile species were more abundant during summer, as well as adnate and stalked ones. Lentification limited the presence of high profile guilds and mucous-forming colonies. Droughts in Alpine streams are fairly recent processes, and the dynamics of aquatic communities facing water scarcity are largely unknown. The results we obtained provide important insights towards a more refined functional classification of diatoms for evaluating hydrological alterations.

Lentification in Alpine rivers: patterns of diatom assemblages and functional traits

E. Falasco;E. Piano;A. Doretto;S. Fenoglio;F. Bona
Last
2018

Abstract

Hydrological alterations in Alpine rivers have been largely increasing due to the combined effects of global climate change and local impacts. Water flow intermittency starts with a process called lentification, which leads to the transformation of the aquatic ecosystem with severe consequences on biotic communities. These consequences have a greater impact in Alpine headwater streams, which are considered important and fragile hotspots of biodiversity and a source of threatened species; the new regime creates conditions to which native biota are poorly adapted. The main aim of our work was to evaluate taxonomical, functional and structural changes of diatom communities in Alpine rivers during the lentification process that precedes a supra-seasonal drought. Contrary to what was expected, communities exposed to river shrinking showed a level of homogeneity comparable to those collected in permanent sections. We therefore hypothesized that lentification created an intermediate disturbance that favoured heterogeneity of assemblages. Conversely, ecological guilds, growth forms and eco-morphological groups varied along temporal and spatial gradients driven by the lentification process. Small, motile and medium-sized low profile species were more abundant during summer, as well as adnate and stalked ones. Lentification limited the presence of high profile guilds and mucous-forming colonies. Droughts in Alpine streams are fairly recent processes, and the dynamics of aquatic communities facing water scarcity are largely unknown. The results we obtained provide important insights towards a more refined functional classification of diatoms for evaluating hydrological alterations.
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Bacillariophyceae,Hydrological alterations, ·Ecological guilds, Growth forms, Eco-morphological groups
E. Falasco,E. Piano, A. Doretto, S. Fenoglio, F. Bona
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1672351
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