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Article

Drivers of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in Equatorial Alpine Rivers of the Rwenzoris (Uganda)

1
Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
2
Provincial Centre of Environmental Research, Godshuizenlaan 95, 9000 Gent, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(6), 1668; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061668
Received: 21 April 2020 / Revised: 30 May 2020 / Accepted: 6 June 2020 / Published: 11 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Ecology Research for Water Quality Management)
The Sub-Saharan alpine freshwater biodiversity is currently impacted by human settlements, climate change, agriculture, and mining activities. Because of the limited biodiversity studies in the region, a better understanding is needed of the important environmental variables affecting macroinvertebrate assemblages. In this paper, macroinvertebrate diversity responses to 18 environmental variables were studied at 30 sites along unique Rwenzori rivers at the equator in Uganda. We hypothesized that anthropogenic disturbance and local environmental variables affect macroinvertebrate diversity, irrespective of altitudinal gradients. Based on altitude and climate, the sites were subdivided into three altitude groups consisting of 10 sites each: upstream (US) 1400–1600 m.a.s.l.; midstream (MS) 1091–1399 m.a.s.l., and downstream (DS) 900–1090 m.a.s.l. A total of 44 macroinvertebrate families and 1623 individuals were identified. The macroinvertebrate diversity patterns were influenced by temperature, altitude, and latitude. Regression analysis revealed that temperature and nickel, were negative predictors of taxa richness. Nickel, which is released by mining activity, is detrimental to aquatic communities in Sub-Saharan alpine ecosystems. Significant longitudinal variation in macroinvertebrate diversity was observed between the sites, which were also affected by mineral and temperature gradients. Our study highlights the need for long-term monitoring in this region to detect and reduce the threats to river biodiversity from anthropogenic activity. View Full-Text
Keywords: macroinvertebrate diversity; glacier-fed rivers; LASSO; biodiversity indices; Equator; Uganda macroinvertebrate diversity; glacier-fed rivers; LASSO; biodiversity indices; Equator; Uganda
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MDPI and ACS Style

Musonge, P.S.L.; Boets, P.; Lock, K.; Goethals, P.L.M. Drivers of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in Equatorial Alpine Rivers of the Rwenzoris (Uganda). Water 2020, 12, 1668. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061668

AMA Style

Musonge PSL, Boets P, Lock K, Goethals PLM. Drivers of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in Equatorial Alpine Rivers of the Rwenzoris (Uganda). Water. 2020; 12(6):1668. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061668

Chicago/Turabian Style

Musonge, Peace S.L., Pieter Boets, Koen Lock, and Peter L.M. Goethals 2020. "Drivers of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in Equatorial Alpine Rivers of the Rwenzoris (Uganda)" Water 12, no. 6: 1668. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061668

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