The influence of urbanization on macroinvertebrate traits was explored in forested rivers in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. Physico-chemical variables were sampled on a monthly basis alongside macroinvertebrates in 20 sites of 11 rivers spanning 2008–2012. Physico-chemical variables were used to classify the 20 sites into three ecological classes, namely: least impacted sites (LIS), moderately impacted sites (MIS) and highly impacted sites (HIS) using principal component analysis. Our results based on RLQ (R = physico-chemical variables, L = macroinvertebrate taxa and Q = macroinvertebrate traits) and fourth-corner analyses revealed that large body size, grazing and hardshell were positively significantly associated with LIS on the RLQ. They were also either negatively correlated with any two of water temperature, nutrients, BOD5
and flow velocity or positively significantly correlated with increasing DO. Thus, these traits were considered sensitive to urban pollution in forested rivers. Burrowing, predation and pupa aquatic stage, which were positively associated with HIS, were also significantly negatively correlated with increasing DO, and were deemed tolerant of urban pollution in forested rivers. Box plots and a Kruskal–Wallis test revealed that the three sensitive traits were significantly highest at LIS (p
< 0.05) except grazing; while the three tolerant traits were significantly highest at MIS (p
< 0.05) except burrowing. Overall, this study revealed that urban pollution influences macroinvertebrate traits differently in forested rivers.
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