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Riparian forests buffer the negative effects of cropland on macroinvertebrate diversity in lowland Amazonian streams

May 6, 2021

Riparian forests regulate stream ecosystems and biodiversity. Therefore, changes to riparian structure may threaten stream ecosystem function by triggering taxonomic and functional changes to aquatic communities. Because macroinvertebrate assemblages are sensitive to environmental changes, they can be effective indicators of stream integrity in disturbed landscapes. To assess the role of riparian forests in maintaining tropical stream communities in areas experiencing large-scale watershed disturbance, we quantified the taxonomic and functional response of stream macroinvertebrate communities to forest clearing in the southeastern Amazon’s agricultural frontier, a region experiencing widespread deforestation. Our results show that watershed deforestation can lead to significant changes in macroinvertebrate richness and community composition. We found a predominance of shredders in forested watersheds; scrapers in cropland watersheds with riparian forests; and collector-filterers in cropland watersheds without riparian forest buffers. Taxonomic composition was controlled by available organic material in forested watersheds and by periphyton in cropland sites regardless of whether they had a riparian buffer. Our results show that the clearing of riparian forests alters food sources supporting aquatic food webs, leading to ecosystem-level shifts through changes in light and temperature dynamics that affect aquatic communities in areas with intense land-use change such as the southeastern Amazon.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Riparian forests buffer the negative effects of cropland on macroinvertebrate diversity in lowland Amazonian streams
DOI 10.1007/s10750-021-04604-y
Authors Nubia C.S. Marques, Kathi Jo Jankowski, Marcia N. Macedo, Leandro Juen, Ana Luiza-Andrade, Linda A. Deegan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrobiologia
Index ID 70222490
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center