Do changes in riparian zones affect periphyton growth and invertebrate colonization on rocky substrates in Atlantic Forest streams?

Walace Pandolpho Kiffer Jr., Thaís Zanotti Giuberti, Karoline Victor Serpa, Flávio Mendes, Marcelo Silva Moretti


We evaluated the growth of periphyton and colonization of sterilized cobbles by invertebrates in three forest streams that differ in the conservation level of riparian zones. Because of differences in light availability and water temperature, we hypothesized the growth of periphytic algae would be higher in the most altered stream. Consequently, invertebrate assemblages would differ among streams. Cobbles with similar sizes were ashed and incubated for 7, 15, 30, 45 and 60 days in the studied streams. Despite periphyton growth was faster in the most altered stream, contents of chlorophyll-a did not differ among streams. A total of 954 individuals (98% insects) belonging to 36 taxa was found. Invertebrate density was higher and increased throughout the experiment in the preserved stream, while invertebrate biomass was higher on the initial sampling intervals (7 and 15 days). A stream effect on invertebrate assemblages was observed after the 15th day and 17 taxa were found only in the preserved stream. Leptophlebiidae (Ephemeroptera), Hydroptilidae, Helichopsychidae, Leptoceridae (Trichoptera) and Orthocladiinae (Diptera) showed specificities with the assemblages found in the preserved stream and no taxa proved to be an indicator of the assemblages found in the altered streams. These results showed that changes in the riparian zones of Atlantic Forest streams did not affect the content of chlorophyll-a on rocky substrates, but the growth of periphyton influenced the density and structural composition of invertebrate assemblages. Our findings partially support the proposed hypothesis and conform to the notion of the importance of periphyton communities for the colonization of exposed substrates by invertebrates and for evaluating the consequences of anthropogenic changes in ecosystem functioning and aquatic communities.

Iheringia Série Zoologia

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