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The influence of geology and season on macroinvertebrates in Belizean streams: implications for tropical bioassessment

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Freshwater Science
Issue number2
Volume34
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)648-662
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date26/03/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Considerable attention has been paid to the potentially confounding effects of geological and seasonal variation on outputs from bioassessments in temperate streams, but our understanding about these influences is limited for many tropical systems. We explored variation in macroinvertebrate assemblage composition and the environmental characteristics of 3(rd)- to 5(th)-order streams in a geologically heterogeneous tropical landscape in the wet and dry seasons. Study streams drained catchments with land cover ranging from predominantly forested to agricultural land, but data indicated that distinct water-chemistry and substratum conditions associated with predominantly calcareous and silicate geologies were key determinants of macroinvertebrate assemblage composition. Most notably, calcareous streams were characterized by a relatively abundant noninsect fauna, particularly a pachychilid gastropod snail. The association between geological variation and assemblage composition was apparent during both seasons, but significant temporal variation in compositional characteristics was detected only in calcareous streams, possibly because of limited statistical power to detect change at silicate sites, or the limited extent of our temporal data. We discuss the implications of our findings for tropical bioassessment programs. Our key findings suggest that geology can be an important determinant of macroinvertebrate assemblages in tropical streams and that geological heterogeneity may influence the scale of temporal response in characteristic macroinvertebrate assemblages.