Droughts are affecting an increasing number of lotic ecosystems worldwide due to the combined effects of climatic and anthropogenic pressures. Unlike naturally intermittent rivers, where the drying phase is a part of the annual flow regime, water scarcity in Alpine rivers represents a relatively recent phenomenon and, therefore, a major threat for the biodiversity of these lotic ecosystems. However, Alpine stream community response to drought is still poorly investigated. Here, we assess the recovery of macroinvertebrates in two Alpine streams after a supraseasonal drought. As water returned, a total of 10 sampling sessions were carried out, and temporal patterns in diversity, density, and taxonomic composition of benthic communities, as well as in the percentage of functional feeding groups, were investigated. We found that the resistance of invertebrate communities in Alpine streams is generally low: drought markedly reduced the diversity and density of macroinvertebrates. Conversely, our results suggest that the passive dispersal by drift from the upstream river sections seems the most probable mechanism promoting the post-drought recovery. Nevertheless, this resilience ability appears to be stream specific and influenced by intrinsic stream characteristics, including the flow permanence and distance from the nearest upstream perennial reach. This work sheds light on the ecological consequences of droughts on macroinvertebrate communities. As flow intermittency in Alpine areas is expected to intensify under current global change scenarios, results of this study provide important information to predict changes in the taxonomic composition and diversity of macroinvertebrate communities.

Stay with the flow: How macroinvertebrate communities recover during the rewetting phase in Alpine streams affected by an exceptional drought

Alberto Doretto;Francesca Bona;Elisa Falasco;Elena Piano;Stefano Fenoglio
2020

Abstract

Droughts are affecting an increasing number of lotic ecosystems worldwide due to the combined effects of climatic and anthropogenic pressures. Unlike naturally intermittent rivers, where the drying phase is a part of the annual flow regime, water scarcity in Alpine rivers represents a relatively recent phenomenon and, therefore, a major threat for the biodiversity of these lotic ecosystems. However, Alpine stream community response to drought is still poorly investigated. Here, we assess the recovery of macroinvertebrates in two Alpine streams after a supraseasonal drought. As water returned, a total of 10 sampling sessions were carried out, and temporal patterns in diversity, density, and taxonomic composition of benthic communities, as well as in the percentage of functional feeding groups, were investigated. We found that the resistance of invertebrate communities in Alpine streams is generally low: drought markedly reduced the diversity and density of macroinvertebrates. Conversely, our results suggest that the passive dispersal by drift from the upstream river sections seems the most probable mechanism promoting the post-drought recovery. Nevertheless, this resilience ability appears to be stream specific and influenced by intrinsic stream characteristics, including the flow permanence and distance from the nearest upstream perennial reach. This work sheds light on the ecological consequences of droughts on macroinvertebrate communities. As flow intermittency in Alpine areas is expected to intensify under current global change scenarios, results of this study provide important information to predict changes in the taxonomic composition and diversity of macroinvertebrate communities.
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Alpine streams, benthic invertebrates, biodiversity, recolonization, resilience, water scarcity
Alberto Doretto, Francesca Bona, Elisa Falasco, Daniele Morandini, Elena Piano, Stefano Fenoglio
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1718418
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