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Open AccessArticle

Interannual Variation of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities at Long-Term Monitoring Sites Impacted by Human Activities: Implications for Bioassessment

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Prothea, Via Alessandro Manzoni, 41, MI 20121 Milano, Italy
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Autonomous University of Madrid - Ctra. Colmenar, Km.15, Ciudad Universitaria de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Geography, Western University, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A 5C2, Canada
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Canadian Rivers Institute, 10 Bailey Drive, P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada
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Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, 1424 Clarke Road, London, ON N5V 5B9, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090167
Received: 27 June 2019 / Revised: 2 September 2019 / Accepted: 6 September 2019 / Published: 16 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
Bioassessment assumes that ecological conditions remain stable in the absence of environmental changes. Evidence suggests this assumption may hold for reference streams, but knowledge gaps remain for impacted streams. Our study quantified interannual variation of benthic macroinvertebrate communities, monitored for at least 14 years in eight impacted streams in the Upper Thames River watershed in Ontario, Canada. Benthic communities exhibited moderate interannual variation in relative abundance of EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) and Chironomidae taxa. Year-to-year changes were reflected in lower community persistence than that observed in studies of reference streams. In contrast, tolerance-based metrics showed minimal interannual variation, suggesting compositional changes were because of taxonomic substitutions, in which one tolerant taxon replaced another. Analyses indicated limited directionality in temporal variation for most bioassessment metrics. An exception was taxa richness, which increased at most sites, possibly because of changes in subsampling. However, no associations between calculated bioassessment metrics and measured environmental factors (stream flow and water chemistry) or sampling procedures were observed. We conclude interannual variation in ecological conditions can be substantial and may not be associated with deterministic factors routinely measured in stream assessments. We recommend increased sampling frequency and traits-based assessment as options for limiting effects of interannual variation on assessment results. View Full-Text
Keywords: benthic macroinvertebrates; bioassessment; community composition; impacted streams; interannual variation; long-term monitoring; stream flow; water chemistry benthic macroinvertebrates; bioassessment; community composition; impacted streams; interannual variation; long-term monitoring; stream flow; water chemistry
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Idígoras Chaumel, A.L.; Armanini, D.G.; Schwindt, J.A.; Yates, A.G. Interannual Variation of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities at Long-Term Monitoring Sites Impacted by Human Activities: Implications for Bioassessment. Diversity 2019, 11, 167.

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