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  • Carrie et al., 2017 Accepted Manuscript.

    Rights statement: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3100-z

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Challenges using extrapolated family-level macroinvertebrate metrics in moderately disturbed tropical streams: a case-study from Belize

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2017
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)257-271
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date2/02/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Family-level biotic metrics were originally designed to rapidly assess gross organic pollution effects, but came to be regarded as general measures of stream degradation. Improvements in water quality in developed countries have reignited debate about the limitations of family-level taxonomy to detect subtle change, and is resulting in a shift back towards generic and species-level analysis to assess smaller effects. Although the scale of pollution characterizing past condition of streams in developed countries persists in many developing regions, some areas are still considered to be only moderately disturbed. We sampled streams in Belize to investigate the ability of family-level macroinvertebrate metrics to detect change in stream catchments where less than 30% of forest had been cleared. Where disturbance did not co-vary with natural gradients of change, and in areas characterized by low intensity activities, none of the metrics tested detected significant change, despite evidence of environmental impacts. We highlight the need for further research to clarify the response of metrics to disturbance over a broader study area that allows replication for confounding sources of natural variation. We also recommend research to develop more detailed understanding of the taxonomy and ecology of Neotropical macroinvertebrates to improve the robustness of metric use.

Bibliographic note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3100-z