The role of the hydrological cycle on the temporal patterns of macroinvertebrate assemblages in an Andean foothill stream in Colombia

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María I. Ríos-Pulgarín
Mario Barletta
María C. Arango-Jaramillo
Néstor J. Mancera-Rodríguez *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Néstor J. Mancera-Rodríguez | njmancer@unal.edu.co

Abstract

The seasonal and interannual changes in the structure, composition and functional feeding groups of the macroinvertebrate assemblage of the Guarinó River, a torrential system located in the Colombian Andean foothills, were examined in relation to the physical and chemical environmental changes associated with the hydrological cycle and the El Niño-Niña/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) between 2007 and 2010. Benthic samples were collected at three sites in the lower sections of the river. A total of 127 taxa were collected in the study, with the total taxonomic richness per site ranging from 82 to 96 taxa and benthos density averaging 5.41 ind. m-2. The density showed a tendency to decrease in periods of maximum river level and flow, particularly during La Niña phenomena, and to increase in dry periods, especially in the third year (2009-2010) during El Niño phenomena. The presence and abundance of taxa, functional feeding groups and life habits were regulated by environmental parameters associated with hydrological variability, derived of ENSO phenomena, especially flow rate values. The assemblage showed high taxonomic and functional diversity, which is characteristic of ecosystems affected by recurrent hydrological disturbances, exhibiting differentiated responses based on adaptive strategies against the local hydrologic regime that allow fast recovery under conditions like ENSO phenomena. Such responses include composition changes according to adaptations to different hydrological scenarios, the predominance of generalist trophic guilds and taxa with plasticity in their habits and range of environmental tolerance.

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