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The ecosystem-level consequences of agricultural land use in Neotropical forests have not been fully studied. In areas like the Choco-Darien, conflict exists between the conservation of highly diverse ecosystems and the use of economically important production areas. Current agricultural practices involve complete deforestation, with consequent multiple effects on stream ecosystems. To address the issue of land use change in tropical rivers of Ecuador, we studied streams draining 3 different land use types in the Mashpi River drainage (Ecuadorian Choco): (1) pristine montane cloud forest, (2) organic farms that included forest patches, and (3) palmito (Bactris gasipaes) production land with extensive use of the insecticide endosulfan and the herbicide glyphosate. We sampled macroinvertebrates (quantitative and qualitative samples) and periphyton, and measured environmental variables during dry and wet seasons, and found a direct relationship between the decline of certain macroinvertebrate groups (e.g., Anacroneuria, Hyallela) and the type of land use. Furthermore, we found that species loss in streams draining organic farms was negligible. Species richness of macroinvertebrates was considerably lower in palmito monoculture farmlands than in the other 2 types of land use. Stream communities of the Mashpi drainage area have been transformed by human agricultural disturbances, and urgent changes to land management practices are necessary.
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Inland Waters
ISSN: 2044-2041 (Print) 2044-205X (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tinw20
Effects of agricultural landscapes and land uses
in highly biodiverse tropical streams of the
Ecuadorian Choco
Andrés Morabowen, Verónica Crespo-Pérez & Blanca Ríos-Touma
To cite this article: Andrés Morabowen, Verónica Crespo-Pérez & Blanca Ríos-Touma (2019):
Effects of agricultural landscapes and land uses in highly biodiverse tropical streams of the
Ecuadorian Choco, Inland Waters, DOI: 10.1080/20442041.2018.1527597
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/20442041.2018.1527597
Published online: 24 May 2019.
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Eects of agricultural landscapes and land uses in highly biodiverse tropical
streams of the Ecuadorian Choco
Andrés Morabowen,
a,b
Verónica Crespo-Pérez ,
b
and Blanca Ríos-Touma
a,c
a
Centro de Investigación de la Biodiversidad y el Cambio ClimáticoBioCamb, Ingeniería en Biodiversidad y Recursos Genéticos, Facultad de
Ciencias de Medio Ambiente, Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, Ecuador;
b
Laboratorio de Entomología, Museo QCAZ-I, Ponticia
Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Quito, Ecuador;
c
Facultad de Ingenierías y Ciencias Aplicadas, Ingeniería
Ambiental, Grupo de Investigación en Biodiversidad, Medio Ambiente y Salud-BIOMAS-, Universidad de las Américas, Quito, Ecuador
ABSTRACT
The ecosystem-level consequences of agricultural land use in Neotropical forests have not been
fully studied. In areas like the Choco-Darien, conict exists between the conservation of highly
diverse ecosystems and the use of economically important production areas. Current agricultural
practices involve complete deforestation, with consequent multiple eects on stream
ecosystems. To address the issue of land use change in tropical rivers of Ecuador, we studied
streams draining 3 dierent land use types in the Mashpi River drainage (Ecuadorian Choco): (1)
pristine montane cloud forest, (2) organic farms that included forest patches, and (3) palmito
(Bactris gasipaes) production land with extensive use of the insecticide endosulfan and the
herbicide glyphosate. We sampled macroinvertebrates (quantitative and qualitative samples) and
periphyton, and measured environmental variables during dry and wet seasons, and found a
direct relationship between the decline of certain macroinvertebrate groups (e.g., Anacroneuria,
Hyallela) and the type of land use. Furthermore, we found that species loss in streams draining
organic farms was negligible. Species richness of macroinvertebrates was considerably lower in
palmito monoculture farmlands than in the other 2 types of land use. Stream communities of
the Mashpi drainage area have been transformed by human agricultural disturbances, and
urgent changes to land management practices are necessary.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 16 December 2017
Accepted 7 September 2018
KEYWORDS
aquatic ecosystems;
conservation; hotspot;
macroinvertebrates
biodiversity; monoculture;
palmito (Bactris gasipaes)
Introduction
The Ecuadorian Choco has a dense network of streams
draining the northern Andes to the Pacic Ocean that
sustains a vast number of dierent organisms. The
Choco is classied as a biodiversity hotspot (Myers
et al. 2000) but is threatened by human disturbance
(Chen et al. 2004, Townsend et al. 2008, Sundbäck
et al. 2010). Several studies have shown that dierent
types of anthropogenic disturbances produce dierent
eects on the biodiversity supported by rivers in tropical
regions (Aratrakorn et al. 2006, Fitzherbert et al. 2008,
Wagner et al. 2010). The main anthropogenic impacts
to rivers and streams in this region are extensive defores-
tation for logging, conversion of forest to oil palm pro-
duction accompanied by chemical river pollution,
overexploitation of sheries, and channel modications
such as dams (Dodds 2002, Liess and Von der Ohe
2005).
In recent decades, clearing forests for agriculture is the
most common disturbance impacting rivers in the Neo-
tropical region (Laurance 1999, Sierra 2013, González-
Jaramillo et al. 2016) and continues to destroy millions
of hectares annually (Achard et al.2002, Lorion and
Kennedy 2009). This activity has been especially preva-
lent in recent decades in impoverished tropical regions
like northwestern Ecuador (Laurance 1999, Ministerio
del Ambiente 2012, Sierra 2013, González-Jaramillo
et al. 2016). Deforestation can degrade stream habitats
by inuencing runoregimes and evapotranspiration
patterns (Iwata et al. 2003) as well as by changing
water temperature regimes and altering the abundance
and diversity of food resources (Henry et al. 1994, Ben-
stead et al. 2003, Bojsen and Jacobsen. 2003, Benstead
and Pringle 2004). These processes can signicantly
change benthic community structure and decrease mac-
roinvertebrate diversity (Benstead et al. 2003,Bojsen and
Jacobsen 2003, Iwata et al. 2003, Dudgeon et al. 2006,
Wantzen and Wagner 2006).
Evidence increasingly indicates that deforestation
caused by conversion to agriculture destructively
impacts benthic stream communities, but the eects
on tropical stream ecosystems require further research
(Lorion and Kennedy 2009). Evidence to support the
conservation of intact riparian forests to maintain
© 2019 International Society of Limnology (SIL)
CONTACT Blanca Ríos-Touma blanca.rios@udla.edu.ec
INLAND WATERS
https://doi.org/10.1080/20442041.2018.1527597
diversity in tropical stream communities is limited
(Dudgeon 2000,Iwataetal.2003, Tomanova et al.
2006). The aim of this study was to increase knowledge
of the eects of land use changes on aquatic communi-
ties in highly biodiverse Neotropical forests. We studied
the communities of the Mashpi watershed in a biodiver-
sity hotspot, the Ecuadorian Choco, a region with a
recent history of deforestation for the cultivation of
hearts of palm (Bactris gasipaes)monoculture.The
Mashpi drainage is a mosaic of protected forests,
organic agroforestry farms, and palmito (Bactris gasi-
paes) monoculture, creating an ideal environment to
test the eects of dierent land uses on aquatic biodi-
versity. This heterogeneity allowed us to determine
dierences between the benthic communities in
streams draining these dierent land uses. Our research
questions were: (1) Are there dierences in the benthic
communities of streams draining dierent types of land
use? (2) Which environmental factors can explain the
dierences among macroinvertebrate assemblages
from streams draining dierent land uses? and (3) Do
agroforestry farms produce fewer impacts on stream
biota than monoculture farms?
This contribution presents the rst evidence of com-
munity changes of aquatic benthic invertebrates in the
Choco hotspot region in the Mashpi drainage area due
to pollution and deforestation caused by monoculture
agricultural expansion. We also document how dierent
agricultural practices, monoculture versus organic farm-
ing, can have dierent levels of impact on benthic com-
munities of the streams draining them.
Materials and methods
Study area
The Mashpi River basin is located in the northwestern
Andean ridge of Ecuador (Fig. 1), which eventually
becomes part of the Esmeraldas River basin that drains
to the Pacic Ocean. We studied 9 streams, all rst-
order tributaries of the Mashpi River, 500 m a.s.l.
The sites were divided into 3 categories based on land
use patterns within their drainage areas. The rst cate-
gory included 3 streams located within the intact
Mashpi forest, composed mostly of pristine montane
forests. The second category included 3 streams drain-
ing organic agroforestry farms that did not use pesti-
cides and had signicant riparian vegetation. The last
category included 3 streams that drained monoculture
palmito farmland with no natural vegetation cover
and little to no riparian vegetation. All streams experi-
enced the same macro-environmental conditions
because they are in close proximity (<2 km apart) and
at similar elevation.
Benthic sampling
The 9 streams were sampled 4 times: December 2014
(wet season), February 2015 (wet season), May 2015
(dry season), and March 2015 (dry season). Each stream
was divided into 3 stations along a 50 m length reach.
Sampling stations in each stream reach were located as
follows: one downstream (0 m), one in the middle
(25 m), and one upstream (50 m). In each station, we
took a qualitative 1 min kick sample using a D-net
(Hauer and Lamberti 2006), attempting to cover all the
microhabitats of the stream. Additionally, in each stream
we collected 3 quantitative samples, one at each station,
in rie habitats using a Surber sampler (500 cm
2
; mesh
size 200 µm; Surber 1937). Most macroinvertebrates
were identied to genus, except for Collembola, Haplo-
taxida, Isopoda, Trombidiformes, Unionoida, Basomma-
tophora, Gordioidea, and Tricladia, which were
identied only to order, and the Chironomidae, which
were identied to subfamily, using specialized keys to
Figure 1. Topography of the Mashpi River subbasin in Ecuador, with locations of the 9 studied streams, monoculture plantations of the
zone, and the protected rain forest area.
2A. MORABOWEN ET AL.
North and South American macroinvertebrates (Merritt
and Cummins 1996, Roldán 1988, Domínguez and Fer-
nández 2009, Hanson et al. 2010).
Periphyton
We used chlorophyll aconcentration as a measure of
periphyton biomass using the spectrophotometric
method (Steinman and Lamberti 1996, APHA 1998).
At each site, 3 cobbles were collected randomly at each
transect. A 4 cm
2
area of each cobble was scraped and
the removed material ltered with a vacuum pump
using microber glass lters, GF/F 47 mm diameter.
The lters were stored at 20 °C until 1 d before extrac-
tion and then placed in 96% ethanol at 4 °C for 24 h to
extract the chlorophyll. We centrifuged 15 mL of the
extract to sediment any impurity in the lter. We mea-
sured absorbance at 665 and 750 nm using a spectropho-
tometer (HACH DK3900, Loveland, CO, USA). To
correct for phaeophytin content, the extract was acidied
with 0.5 mL of 0.1N HCL, and absorbance was measured
again at 665 and 750 nm wavelengths.
Environmental variables
At each sampling event we measured pH, dissolved oxy-
gen (mg/L), conductivity (µS/cm), temperature (°C), dis-
charge (m
3
/s), and percentage of oxygen using YSI PRO
probes (Yellow Springs, OH, USA). For the discharge
measurements we used the salt dilution method (White
1978), in which a bucket with a known amount of dis-
solved salt (volume and conductivity) was added
upstream, and then conductivity was measured every
10 s at 1525 m downstream. Mean current velocity
and discharge were calculated as the time elapsed for
half the salt to pass the stream reach divided by the
length of the reach. At each stream, 750 mL water sam-
ples were collected, frozen, and taken to the laboratory
for measurements of nitrate and phosphate concentra-
tions. We analysed phosphate concentration using the
soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) method (Murphy
and Riley 1962) and nitrate concentration using the cad-
mium reduction method (Henriksen and Selmer-Olsen
1970) with a spectrophotometer (HACH DK3900, Love-
land CO, USA).
We characterized substrate using the pebble count
method by measuring the intermediate axis of 100 ran-
dom sediment particles in each stream habitat (Kondolf
and Li 1992). We measured benthic coarse particulate
organic matter (CPOM), the main energy source for
members of the basal trophic chain in forest streams
(Vannote et al. 1980, Cummins et al. 1989, Abelho and
Graça 1998), to account for potential dierences in food
availability for macroinvertebrates. CPOM (>1 mm)
was collected from Surber samples after all macroinverte-
brates were removed. The material was dried at 90 °C for
24 h, weighed, and then combusted in a mue furnace at
500 °C for 4 h and weighed again to obtain the ash-free
dry mass, calculated as the dierence between the initial
and nal weight (dried CPOM minus combusted
CPOM; Steinman and Lamberti 1996).
Data analysis
We assessed the dierences and similarities among and
between treatments using an analysis of similarities
(ANOSIM) in Primer v6 (Ivybridge, UK), a test widely
used to test spatial dierences in community assemblage
(Chapman and Underwood 1999). This analysis was per-
formed with data from both the standardized D-net sam-
ples (relative abundance, without rare taxa) and Surber
samples (density, without rare taxa). The one-way ANO-
SIM is based on the statistical test R, which varies from
1 to +1, with values closer to 1 representing the largest
dierences between groups (Clarke and Warwick 2001).
To determine which macroinvertebrates were respon-
sible for dierences found between and among stream
types, we performed a SIMPER analysis excluding com-
mon taxa (present in 95% of samples), allowing us to
pinpoint the taxa that characterized each stream cate-
gory. In addition, with this analysis we could detect
which groups were aected or favored by the dierent
types of land use associated with the stream drainage.
We performed SIMPER analyses with data from quanti-
tative (density) and qualitative (relative abundance) sam-
ples in Primer v6. (Ivybrige, UK).
To visualize how the community composition diered
among streams from the same treatment and streams
from dierent treatments, we performed a principal
coordinates analysis (PCO) and a cluster analysis with
a similarity prole (SIMPROF) test to validate groups
(Clarke and Warwick 2001) for macroinvertebrate rela-
tive abundance (kick samples) and density (Surber sam-
ples), again excluding common taxa. The data matrix
was transformed using a square root transformation,
and the similarity matrix was calculated using the
Bray-Curtis similarity index (Clarke and Warwick
2001). Stress was calculated as a measure of the accuracy
of the similarity matrix; values <0.2 correspond to a rea-
sonable t (Clarke and Warwick 2001). The PCO was
performed using Primer v6 (Ivybridge, UK).
To test for signicant dierences in the environmental
variables among treatments, we used a Kruskal-Wallis H
test, a nonmetric rank analysis of variance in STATIS-
TICA 8.0 (Weiß 2007). A principal component analysis
(PCA) using Primer v6 (Ivybridge UK) was then
INLAND WATERS 3
performed to spatially visualize dierences in the physico-
chemical variables of streams within and between treat-
ments. All variables were normalized as a requirement
for the use of Euclidean distance as a measure of
dissimilarity.
To determine signicant variability in the communities
in dierent categories of streams, we performed a full fac-
torial ANOVA in STATISTICA 8.0 (StatSoft Inc. 2007) to
account for the eect of month of sampling and land use
on community metrics. Several community metrics were
used: richness (S), rareed richness (SRar), abundance
(N), density, and the Shannon Wiener diversity index
(N1) in its exponential form to express the result as true
number of species (Jost 2006). These metrics were calcu-
lated using Primer v6 (Clarke and Gorley 2006).
Results
Environmental changes among land uses
Water temperature (Table 1,Fig. 2a) was signicantly
higher in the streams draining human-inuenced lands
(i.e., agroforestry and monoculture farmlands; Kruskal-
Wallis H (2 d.f., n= 9) = 7.26; p= 0.027), averaging 22.4
°C in agroforestry farmlands and 22 °C in monoculture
farmlands. The average water temperature of streams
crossing forest streams was 21.6 °C (Fig. 2a).
Stream pH (Table 1,Fig. 2b) also varied signicantly
between the studied streams (Kruskal-Wallis H (2 d.f.,
n= 9) = 6.16 p= 0.0459). Water was more acidic in
monoculture streams, with an average pH of 7.39, than
in agroforestry and forest streams, averaging 7.73 and
7.66, respectively (Table 1,Fig. 2b).
Dierences in discharge between land uses were close
to signicant (Table 1,Fig. 2c) (Kruskal-Wallis H (2 d.f.,
n= 9) = 5.96; p= 0.0509). Agroforestry farmland streams
had higher and more variable discharge than the other 2
treatments, especially compared to monoculture streams,
where we found almost no variation in discharge
(Fig. 2c).
The amount of CPOM (Fig. 2d) measured from the
Surber samples varied dramatically between forest streams,
where we found the highest CPOM, and human-
inuenced streams, where we found lower quantities of
CPOM, although dierences were not signicant (Kruskal
Wallis H (d.f. 2, n= 9)= 5.42 p= 0.067). The average
amount of organic matter was almost the same in agrofor-
estry farmlands streams and monoculture streams (5.15 g)
but higher in forest-draining streams (8.41 g; Table 1,Fig. 2
d). Conductivity, substrate, oxygen, nitrate, and phosphate
showed no signicant dierences among land uses, and the
averages were similar among all stream types.
The PCA (Fig. 3) of the environmental variables and
primary production showed that the rst 2 axes
explained 60% of the stream distribution on the plot.
Streams draining monoculture farmlands were the only
closely grouped streams and were negatively correlated
with discharge, temperature, and pH and positively
correlated with nitrate, phosphate, and chlorophyll a
concentrations. By contrast, the agroforestry farmland-
draining streams were positively correlated with temper-
ature and discharge. Finally, forest streams were posi-
tively correlated with oxygen and CPOM (Fig 3).
Primary production among land uses
No signicant dierence was found in periphyton bio-
mass, estimated through chlorophyll aconcentration,
among land uses (p= 0.42). The highest average concen-
trations were found in streams draining monoculture
farmlands (mean [SD] = 0.18 [0.12] µg/cm
2
). The forest
streams had intermediate values (0.69 [0.06] µg/cm
2
)
and, streams draining agroforestry farms had the lowest
values (0.068 [0.02] µg/cm
2
).
Benthic communities across land uses
We found 23 305 invertebrate individuals at the 9 sites
during the 4 months of sampling; 10 837 were collected
with the kick D-net method and 12 468 with the Surber
sampling method. All specimens were classied in 140
taxa belonging to 18 dierent orders, the majority of
which were Coleoptera, with 32 genera; others included
Table 1. Environmental variables measured across streams draining dierent land uses in Mashpi River basin, Ecuador. CPOM = coarse
particulate organic matter; AFDM = ash-free dry mass.
Land use Site
Temperature
(°C)
Conductivity
(μS/cm)
Oxygen
(mg/L) pH
Substrate
(SG)
Discharge
m
3
/s
CPOM
(AFDM)
Nitrate
(mg/L)
Phosphate
(mg/L)
Reference Boshungo 21.67 23.52 6.71 7.47 2.13 0.01 6.39 0.40 0.13
Chakra 21.67 48.92 7.31 7.78 3.37 0.02 6.84 0.40 0.16
MalTrib 21.57 43.63 7.45 7.74 3.10 0.01 12.02 0.43 0.14
Organic
farms
Inés 22.67 36.90 7.12 7.80 3.02 0.08 4.95 0.30 0.12
Mashungo 22.52 33.10 6.49 7.58 2.57 0.01 5.43 0.40 0.13
Pamb 22.07 70.80 7.31 7.82 2.66 0.04 5.10 0.30 0.15
Monoculture MasPest1 22.05 44.15 6.99 7.39 3.37 0.00 4.98 0.40 0.12
MasPest2 21.97 48.10 7.08 7.39 2.00 0.00 5.68 0.40 0.13
Taipest 22.00 52.17 6.81 7.39 2.60 0.01 4.83 0.48 0.33
4A. MORABOWEN ET AL.
26 taxa of Diptera, 11 genera of Ephemeroptera, and 29
genera of Trichoptera.
No signicant dierences were found (full factorial
ANOVA) in community diversity metrics, except for
Shannon N1 (equivalent number of species) between
the streams draining dierent land use types (Fig. 4).
However, a reduction in richness was evident in streams
draining monoculture farmlands compared with forest
and agroforestry farms streams (Fig. 5).
The PCO (which explained 57.4% of the variance) with
average cluster showed that streams grouped by geo-
graphical proximity rather than land use (Fig. 6). How-
ever, the average of the 3 streams for each land use
showed a signicant clustering, dierentiating monocul-
ture streams from forest and agroforestry streams (Fig. 7).
The ANOSIM using relative abundance data and
excluding ubiquitous taxa showed that the least similar
communities compared with forest streams were those
draining monoculture farmlands (R=0.404, p=0.001).
Dierences between streams draining forest and agrofor-
estry were lower (R=0.3, p= 0.001). Finally, we found
higher similarity in the relative abundance of taxa in agro-
forestry draining streams and monoculture draining
streams (R=0.237,p= 0.001). The ANOSIM using density
data, excluding ubiquitous taxa, showed that the least sim-
ilar communities compared with forest streams were those
draining monoculture farmlands (R=0.11,p= 0.029), fol-
lowed by the agroforestry farmlandsdraining streams (R=
0.026, p= 0.029). Finally, the organic agroforestry stream
communities and monoculture draining streams were
the least similar (R=0.116,p=0.029).
The SIMPER analysis showed that the dissimilarity
percentages among land uses, using the relative abun-
dance metrics, were smaller when comparing monocul-
ture streams to forest streams (68.7%) than the
dissimilarity of streams draining agroforestry farms
compared with those draining forest streams (69.8%;
SIMPER analysis). The taxa that completely disappeared
from monoculture streams and caused most of the dier-
ences with the other treatments were Anacroneuria sp.
(Perlidae; Plecoptera), Hyallela sp. (Hyallelidae; Crusta-
cea), and Corydalus sp. (Corydalidae; Megaloptera)
Figure 2. (a) Temperature across streams draining dierent land uses in the Mashpi River basin, Ecuador; (b) pH across streams draining
dierent land uses in the Mashpi River basin, Ecuador; (c) discharge (m
3
/s) across streams draining dierent land uses in the Mashpi
River basin, Ecuador; (d) coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM, g ash free dry mass) across streams draining dierent land uses in the
Mashpi River basin, Ecuador.
INLAND WATERS 5
(SIMPER Analysis). The taxa that slowly declined in rel-
ative abundance from forests to monoculture draining
streams were Campylocia sp. (Euthyplocidae, Ephemer-
optera), Nectopsyche sp.(Leptoceridae; Trichoptera),
Chimarra sp. (Philopotamidae; Trichoptera), and Zelu-
sia sp. (Baetidae, Ephemeroptera). Diptera (Chironomi-
dae; Orthocladiinae; Limoniidae) were the only taxa
found in higher abundance in streams draining mono-
culture farmlands and agroforestry farmlands.
The SIMPER analysis showed that the dissimilarity
percentages among land uses, using density metrics,
were higher when comparing monoculture streams to
forest streams (64.5%) than the dissimilarity of streams
draining agroforestry farms compared with those
draining forest streams (60.7%); the percentage of dis-
similarity among agroforestry farmlands and forest
Figure 3. Principal component analysis (PCA) on eects of abiotic variables on streams draining dierent land uses clustered by com-
munity similarities in the Mashpi River basin, Ecuador. 60 represents the percentage of similarity according to the average cluster using
Bray-Curtis similarity matrix.
Figure 4. Shannon diversity (N1) dierence across streams drain-
ing dierent land uses in the Mashpi River basin, Ecuador.
Figure 5. Macroinvertebrate rareed richness (SRaR) dierence
across streams draining dierent land uses in the Mashpi River
basin, Ecuador.
6A. MORABOWEN ET AL.
streams was intermediate (62.8%; SIMPER analysis).
The dierences in densities of some taxa were not as
marked as the dierences in relative abundance
between treatments. Campylocia sp. (Euthyplocidae;
Ephemeroptera), Anacroneuria sp. (Perlidae; Plecop-
tera), and Chimarra sp. (Philopotamidae; Trichoptera)
were the major contributors to the dierences among
forest streams and streams draining monoculture farm-
lands. Contributors to the dierences between streams
draining agroforestry farms and monoculture streams
were caused by Nectopsyche sp. (Leptoceridae; Trichop-
tera), Palaemnema sp. (Platystictidae; Odonata),
Cylloepus sp. (Elmidae; Coleoptera), and Psephenus
sp. (Psephenidae; Coleoptera).
Discussion
Thegoalofthisstudywastoidentifyimpactsfromdier-
ent land uses on communities of aquatic invertebrates in
streams in the Choco biodiversity hotspot to understand
how these communities have changed along a gradient
of human impact, from pristine forests to monoculture
palmito (Bactris gasipaes) plantations. In general, we
found that the invertebrate communities and the environ-
mental characteristics of streams draining anthropogenic
Figure 6. Principal coordinates of streams draining dierent land uses in the Mashpi River basin, Ecuador. Groups are dened by an
average group (land use) clustering with 60 representing the percentage of similarity according to the average cluster using Bray-Curtis
similarity matrix.
Figure 7. Average group (land use) clustering of sites with SIMPROF test from macroinvertebrate assemblages of streams draining
dierent land uses in the Mashpi River basin, Ecuador.
INLAND WATERS 7
land uses were dierent from streams draining lands with
lower levels of anthropogenic disturbance. Although the
benthic invertebrate communities of streams draining
agroforestry farms did not dier signicantly from intact
forest stream communities, we found important dieren-
ces between communities in monoculture streams and
those in intact forest streams, and some taxa were lost in
streams draining monoculture lands.
Eects of land use on benthic fauna
One of the most detrimental human practices torivers and
streams is the establishment of monocultures that elimi-
nate forests to maximize production, especially for small
streams, which are among the most threatened habitats
because of the extent of land converted to agriculture
(Harding et al. 1998). Complete forest clearing reduces
allochthonous inputs to streams, which modies their tro-
phic structure (Abelho and Graça 1998). Shredder abun-
dance is inuenced by several factors, such as leaf input
reduction, leaf type, and microorganism leaf conditioning
(Golladay et al. 1983, Graça 2001). In our study, we found a
decline in the relative abundance and density of the shred-
der Nectopsyche sp. in streams draining monoculture
farmlands, probably caused by the lack of diversity in
leaf input, together with a reduced fungi community colo-
nizing the leaves, as found in other studies (Chergui and
Pattee 1991, Graça et al. 1993, Rosenberg and Resh 1993,
Kiran 1996, Scrimgeour and Kendall 2003, Encalada
et al. 2010). Nectopsyche sp. was an important component
of the forest streams; it declined in streams draining agro-
forestry farms and almost disappeared in streams draining
monoculture farmlands. The decline in abundance of Lep-
toceridae (Trichoptera) has been attributed to their sensi-
tivity to aquatic pollutants (Rios-Touma et al. 2014)but
also to their dependency on dierent sources of allochth-
onous material (Wallace et al. 1997, Rios-Touma et al.
2011). In our study, the shredder functional feeding
group (e.g., the caddisies Phylloicus sp. and Nectopsyche
sp.) was crucial in processing CPOM. These insects accel-
erate litter fragmentation for other taxa to feed on and pro-
duce fecal pellets that contribute to secondary production.
The absence of these taxa cascades through the food web,
eventually reducing stream production (Webster and
Beneld 1986,Graça2001, Allan and Castillo 2007).
Other eects of deforestation near streams are an
increase in supercial runo, deposition of ne sedi-
ment, increased pesticides, and increased nutrient
input, accompanied by higher water temperature (Prin-
gle and Bernstead 2001, Iwata et al. 2003, Kasangaki
et al. 2008). Several studies found that plecopterans are
susceptible to organic pollution and lack of dissolved
oxygen (Armitage et al. 1983, Lenat 1988, Ríos-Touma
et al. 2014). In our study, Anacroneuria sp. (Plecoptera)
was completely absent from monoculture streams, possi-
bly because of higher temperatures.
Another macroinvertebrate group absent in monocul-
ture streams was Campylocia sp., detritivorous mayy
burrowers that ingest large amounts of ne particles
deposited in sedimentation areas (Fenoglio et al. 2008).
This genus of mayies uses its large mandibles to stay
xed in sediments under stones, a habitat preference
that might explain its absence in monoculture streams
because stream sediments are usually the main sinks of
pollutants that enter streams (Cameron et al. 2002, Mag-
bauna et al. 2013). Although we did not document the
presence of pesticides in water or sediments because no
local laboratories suitable for this analysis were available,
we know that large amounts of herbicides are used and
washed into these streams because we found several
used cans of glyphosate in the plantations, and local res-
idents told us they used it extensively to clear weeds.
The amphipod Hyallela sp. was also absent from the
streams draining monoculture lands, but it was found in
streams draining agroforestry farms. This crustacean is
particularly sensitive to the ingredients present in glypho-
sate herbicide (Tsui and Chu 2004). Although we did not
examine glyphosate content in running waters in our
study, the community reported widespread use of this her-
bicide on roadsides, near streambeds, and of course inside
palmito plantations. During our eld trips we saw empty
kegs of herbicide thrown carelessly inside monoculture
plantations, some close to the streams (AM, pers. observ.).
In addition, local workers of monoculture farmlands esti-
mated that 0.2 L of herbicide dissolved in 2 L of water
were spread per hectare each month, which is within the
limits permitted by the Instituto Nacional de Investigación
Agropecuaria (INIAP) in Ecuador (24L/ha).
Stream communities from monoculture lands were
not similar to those in streams draining the other land
uses, mainly because of the high numbers of midges,
Orthocladiinae, in streams draining monoculture lands.
Chironomids are a well-known group of insects tolerant
to environmental extremes and to chemical and organic
pollution. Their high recolonization rates in these habi-
tats are due to their short life cycles and good ight
capacity (Armitage et al. 2012).
Variables responsible for community dierences
Many studies have shown that intensive agricultural
lands have lower evapotranspiration rates than natural
vegetation (Eagleson 1978, Gardner 1983, Canadell
et al. 1996, Costa et al. 2003, Li et al. 2007, Raymond
et al. 2008, Coe et al. 2011), especially in annual crops
and perennial pastures with reduced root density and
8A. MORABOWEN ET AL.
depth (Coe et al. 2011). The root system in forests also
plays a key role in stabilizing stream banks and prevent-
ing erosion (e.g., Chamberlin et al. 1991, Tabacchi et al.
2000). Our results showed that discharge was higher in
streams draining both organic agroforestry farmlands
and palmito monoculture streams, likely because these
streams have a less complex root system in their banks,
causing water to enter streams at a higher rate. In our
study, discharge was highly inuential in the distribution
patterns of macroinvertebrates and caused dierences in
benthic invertebrate communities between human-
impacted and forested streams.
The streams draining agroforestry lands and mono-
culture farms were warmer than streams draining forests,
possibly related to the lack of streamside canopy that
exposes streams to high solar radiance, causing higher
runoand making water in these streams warmer and
less oxygenated. The agroforestry lands of the area
were formerly used for cattle grazing (6 years ago,
according to land owners), and riparian forest recovery
has probably not yet occurred. The Mashpi drainage
basin has a high level of solar radiance when there is
no cloud cover, making forest cover important for miti-
gating high temperatures. Other studies have also found
that logging in drainage basins leads to an increase in the
average water temperatures of streams (Burton and Lik-
ens 1973, Holtby and Scrivener 1988, St-Hilaire et al.
2000). As stated earlier, the absence of Plecoptera in all
monoculture streams may be caused by these high tem-
peratures. In addition, the dissolved oxygen capacity
decreases with water temperature (Dodds 2002). This
decrease in oxygen could also be aecting communities
in these warmer monoculture streams, although we did
not detect signicant changes in oxygen concentration
between our streams.
Impact dierences between monoculture and
agroforestry farmlands
Less invasive and destructive agricultural practices (i.e.,
preservation of buering vegetation near streams and
avoiding water pollution) have less impact on diversity
and richness of macroinvertebrates, although no signi-
cant dierence was found for richness. We did nd
large dierences in the abundance of certain taxa in
communities in streams draining monoculture farm-
lands compared with agroforestry farmlands. None of
the taxa in the main orders (Odonata, Plecoptera, Crus-
tacea, Trichoptera, and Ephemeroptera) disappeared in
streamsdrainingagroforestrylands.Bycontrast,some
taxa did disappear from monoculture streams (e.g., Epi-
gomphus sp., Hyallela sp., Erpetogomphus sp., Austro-
limnius sp., Alisotrichia sp., and Hydroptila sp.).
Interestingly, in streams draining agroforestry farms,
some taxa increased in abundance (e.g., Nectopsyche
sp., Tricorythodes sp., Campylocia sp., Anacroneuria
sp., and Leptonema sp.) compared to forest streams.
These genera are possibly favored by intermediate levels
of disturbance in agroforestry farms streams. Lepto-
nema sp. and Campylocia sp. are part of the collec-
torgatherer functional feeding group, and in these
streams may be favored by the amount of food available
and lower abundance of competitors than in mature
and stable communities of forest streams (Wiggins
1996,2004, Tomanova et al. 2006,Reynaga2009).
Finally, Anacroneuria are facultative predators (Merritt
and Cummins 1996, Tomanova et al.2006,Reynaga
and Rueda 2010), which in biologically diverse streams
with diverse substrates, such as the forest streams, are
able to exploit a variety of prey types where they
become more abundant.
Conclusions
Deforestation near streams aects the presence of some
Trichoptera, some Plecoptera, and all Amphipoda, and
favors the colonization of tolerant Chironomidae.
Streams of the area were relatively well conserved, and
they have high diversity. The main threats to this diver-
sity are deforestation, sedimentation, and presumably
chemical and organic pollution. These streams are the
source of water for many people in lowlands and should
be a focus for conservation eorts and research. We
found that even small changes in land use could lead
to local extinction of some groups of benthic
macroinvertebrates.
The lack of signicance in the community metrics
(diversity [S], abundance [N], and density) in streams
draining dierent land use types may be because (1)
diversity of these rivers is high enough that the dieren-
ces can only be seen in certain taxa, and (2) these com-
munities may be resilient to negative impacts because
high diversity and high density of macrobenthos
allow constant recolonization. Although nonsignicant,
macroinvertebrate richness was low in monoculture
streams compared to forest and agroforestry lands
(Fig. 5), and we did nd a signicant increase in Shannon
diversity (N1) of agroforestry land streams compared to
the other land uses. We think this nding might be a case
of intermediate disturbance hypothesis (Townsend et al.
1997), in which new niches are open in streams draining
these lands.
To better understand the eects of deforestation and
pesticides in these streams, mesocosmos experiments
should be performed that control emergence success
and drift with controlled exposures to herbicides and
INLAND WATERS 9
organic matter availability that mimic conditions seen in
the streams. Hyallela sp., Anacroneuria sp., Campylocia
sp., Corydallus sp., and other taxa rare or absent from
the monoculture streams would be interesting to study
in these controlled experiments to dierentiate the
eects of deforestation from pesticide exposure. The
eect of the possible presence of pesticides, especially
herbicides, was not obvious in the community diversity
and abundance metrics. The eects of chronic exposure
can only be seen clearly by studying the life history of
macroinvertebrates, including emergence success, espe-
cially when other studies link glyphosate exposure with
an increase in drift and emergence propensities of just
a few glyphosate-sensitive taxa. This herbicide can also
reduce the size and success rate of emerging adult insects
(Magbanua et al. 2013,2016).
Acknowledgements
We are thankful to Cliord Kyle, Álvaro Barragán and the 2
anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. To Choc-
olate Mashpi (Agustina Arcos and Alejandro Solano), Pambi-
liño Preserve (Oliver Torres), Mashpi Lodge, and Mashpi
Preserve (Carlos Morochz) for eld facilities. This work was
supported by Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica (UTI)
Grant 121.068.2014 and an agreement between UTI and
Mashpi Preserve. BRT was partially supported by Universidad
de Las Américas, Ecuador (UDLA, Grant: AMB.BRT.17.01).
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author(s).
ORCID
Verónica Crespo-Pérez http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8811-
1965
Blanca Ríos-Touma http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3921-0908
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12 A. MORABOWEN ET AL.
... They regulate the inputs of solar radiation, nutrients, and organic matter to streams, influencing temporal and spatial patterns in freshwater population dynamics, trophic relationships, and biogeochemical processes (Burrell et al., 2014;Richardson et al. 2010;Stutter et al. 2012). Vegetation in the riparian zone contributes to the physical, chemical, and biological conditions within streams (de Morabowen et al., 2019;Randhir and Ekness 2013), and provides many ecosystem services, including recreation, nutrient retention, biodiversity conservation, and water supply (Clerici et al. 2014;Jones et al. 2010). ...
... The presence of forest in the catchments (Table S1) and fragments of riparian forest upstream (600-800 m) from the pasture sites may have facilitated the dispersal of some groups of organisms, such as aquatic insects, thus mitigating the effects of deforestation on macroinvertebrate communities (González-Trujillo et al. 2019;Nessimian et al., 2008). Recolonization has been proposed as a mechanism to enhance resilience to disturbance produced by land use change in tropical streams (Morabowen et al., 2019). In addition, the livestock farming conducted in the region is developed under an extensive system which may influence the physical habitat and bank condition (Chará-Serna et al., 2015;Niyogi et al. 2007), but do not involve major impacts in water quality from permanent sources of organic pollution as occur in intensive systems (Vale et al. 2019). ...
Article
Land use change threatens the ecological integrity of tropical rivers and streams; however, few studies have simultaneously analyzed the taxonomic and functional responses of tropical macroinvertebrates to riparian forest conversion. Here, we used community structure, functional diversity, and stable isotope analyses to assess the impacts of riparian deforestation on macroinvertebrate communities of streams in southern Mexico. Monthly sampling during the dry season was conducted in streams with riparian forest (forest streams), and in streams with pasture dominating the riparian vegetation (pasture streams). Samples were collected for water quality (physical-chemical variables, nutrient concentrations, and total suspended solids), organic matter (leaf litter abundance and algal biomass), and macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity. Higher temperature, conductivity, suspended solids, and chlorophyll a were detected in pasture streams, while nitrate concentrations and leaf litter biomass were greater in forest streams. Macroinvertebrate density was higher in pasture sites, while no differences in taxonomic diversity and richness were found between land uses. Functional evenness was greater in forest streams, while richness and divergence were similar between land uses, despite differences in taxonomic composition. Environmental variables were associated with taxa distribution but not with functional traits, suggesting current conditions still promote redundancy in ecological function. Isotopic analyses indicated consumers in pasture streams were enriched in ¹³C and ¹⁵N relative to forest streams, potentially reflecting the higher algal biomass documented in pasture systems. Isotopic niches were broader and more overlapped in pasture streams, indicating more generalist feeding habits. No significant losses of taxonomic or functional diversity were detected in pasture streams. However, changes in trophic ecology suggest landscape-level processes are altering macroinvertebrate feeding habits in streams. The changes we observed in habitat, water quality, and macroinvertebrate community were related to the removal of the riparian vegetation, suggesting the structure and function of the focal systems would benefit from riparian restoration.
... Agrochemicals used on crops are transported to aquatic ecosystems through different pathways, and affect non-target organisms, such as some aquatic insects [33,37]. For example, in alignment with our study, Morabowen et al. (2019) found that Nectopsyche decreased along an agricultural land use gradient. It is important to notice that some individuals survived our experimental treatments, even at the highest pesticide concentration. ...
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Andean streams are becoming increasingly impacted by agricultural activities. However, the potential effects of pesticides on their aquatic biodiversity remain unassessed. In order to address this knowledge gap, we conducted an experiment over 37 days in microcosms to assess the effect of two pesticides commonly used in Ecuador (Engeo and Chlorpyrifos) on the aquatic insect Nectopsyche sp. (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae) at 0, 0.10, 5 and 10 μg L−1 concentra-tions. The highest concentration corresponds to the maximum concentration allowed by the Equatorian legislation. We assessed insect mortality every 24 h, with leaf litter decomposition rates of organic matter determined by deploying Andean alder (Alnus acuminata) dry leaf packs in the microcosms. We found significant mortality of Nectopsyche sp. at high concentrations of Chlorpyrifos, whereas leaf litter was not significantly affected by any of the treatments. We con-clude that the environmental legislation of Ecuador might not be fully protecting aquatic biodi-versity from pesticide pollution. Further studies are needed, especially when considering that the maximum permitted concentration is very likely exceeded in many areas of the country. We also suggest that the maximum permissible values should be reviewed, considering each pesticide individually.
... However, the effects of these four aforementioned degradation drivers are more evident at sites P4, P5, and P6 (Fig. 6). Overall, sites P4 to P6 showed the lowest scores for all LOEs, confirming that intense agricultural and livestock activities represented significant impacts on the aquatic ecosystem of the MRB, such as other authors previously discussed for basins with similar threats (Morabowen et al., 2019). The IFEQ classified site P4 with a bad condition (31.2), whereas sites P5 and P6 with critical conditions (<30). ...
Article
Degradation of freshwater ecosystems by uncontrolled human activities is a growing concern in the tropics. In this regard, we aimed at testing an integrative framework based on the IFEQ index to assess freshwater ecosystem health of river basins impacted by intense livestock and agricultural activities, using the Muchacho River Basin (MRB) as a case study. The IFEQ combines multiple lines of evidence such as riverine hydromorphological analysis (LOE 1), physicochemical characterization using ions and pesticides (LOE 2), aquatic macroinvertebrate monitoring (LOE 3), and phytotoxicological essays with L. sativa (LOE 4). Overall, results showed an important reduction in streamflow and an elevated increase in ion concentrations along the MRB caused by deforestation and erosion linked to agricultural and livestock activities. Impacts of the high ion concentrations were evidenced in macroinvertebrate communities as pollution-tolerant families, associated with high conductivity levels, represented 92 % of the total abundance. Pollution produced by organophosphate pesticides (OPP) was critical in the whole MRB, showing levels that exceeded 270-fold maximum threshold for malathion and 30-fold for parathion, the latter banned in Ecuador. OPP concentrations were related to low germination percentages of L. sativa in sediment phytotoxicity tests. The IEFQ index ranged from 44.4 to 25.6, indicating that freshwater ecosystem conditions were “bad” at the headwaters of the MRB and “critical” along the lowest reaches. Our results show strong evidence that intense agricultural and livestock activities generated significant impacts on the aquatic ecosystem of the MRB. This integrative approach better explains the cumulative effects of human impacts, and should be replicated in other basins with similar conditions to help decision-makers and concerned inhabitants generate adequate policies and strategies to mitigate the degradation of freshwater ecosystems.
... These organisms are widely used in studies of anthropogenic impact (e.g., Couceiro et al. 2012;Martins et al. 2017;Erdozain et al. 2019), because chemical and physical modifications of the environment may systematically alter richness, abundance, trophic structure and composition of their assemblages (Couceiro et al. 2007(Couceiro et al. , 2010(Couceiro et al. ,2011Siegloch et al. 2017;Pearson et al. 2020). In general, anthropogenic impacts have negative effects on macroinvertebrate fauna, resulting in the occurrence of only a few more tolerant forms such as the Chironomidae larvae (Couceiro et al. 2007;Morabowen et al. 2019). ...
Article
Natural fluctuations in ecosystems, such as those associated with climate, are a fundamental factor structuring macroinvertebrate assemblages. Given that macroinvertebrates are widely used in biomonitoring of aquatic systems, it is necessary assess the potential effects of seasonality on this group to avoid confusing its effects with the effects of anthropogenic impacts. In the present study, the richness, assemblage composition, and abundance of macroinvertebrates of Amazonian streams (n = 23) were compared among four periods—the start and apex of dry period, and the start and apex of rainy period. For these comparisons, were considered the conditions of the streams in three categories: (i) pristine, (ii) impacted by deforestation, and (iii) impacted by deforestation and pollution with raw sewage. The results indicate no significant variation among periods in the richness (p = 0.397), abundance (p = 0.420), and assemblage composition (p = 0.274) of the macroinvertebrates, which respond to anthropogenic impact irrespective of the seasonal period. Given this, representative samples can be obtained during any given period of the year, reducing field costs and sample processing time, enabling the reliable and rapid diagnosis of streams.
... Así mismo, la pérdida de bosques, conllevan a otra serie de estresores como la sedimentación, pérdida de los bancos que afectan la heterogeneidad de los hábitats de los macroinvertebrados, afectando así sus atributos comunitarios (Miserendino et al. 2008 . La agricultura y la ganadería afectan las comunidades de macroinvertebrados acuáticos (Fierro et al. 2019, Brand y Miserendino 2015, en particular por los efectos de la incorporación de sedimentos, nutrientes , Villamarín et al. 2013) y pesticidas , Hunt et al. 2017, Macchi et al. 2018, Morabowen et al. 2019); así como la construcción de canales para la extracción y conducción de agua, que altera la disponibilidad de hábitats para los macroinvertebrados (Habit et al. 1998). ...
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Los estresores ambientales tienen efectos medibles en el ecosistema fluvial y sus organismos, por lo que estos últimos son de interés para estimar la integridad o el estado ecológico de los ríos. En Suramérica los métodos para la evaluación de los ríos varían entre países, con lo cual es necesario conocer cuáles receptores biológicos y ambientales (parámetros) son adecuados para estimar el efecto de un estresor y así calibrar y estandarizar la aplicación de los métodos en diferentes situaciones y escalas. Se efectuó una revisión de estresores y parámetros utilizados en diferentes países de Suramérica. Se consideraron los estresores según su origen (ej. minería, deforestación, dragados, introducción de especies) y en una matriz jerarquizada fueron relacionados con los parámetros que aportan información sobre su efecto: receptores biológicos (ej. macrófitas, peces) y receptores ambientales (ej. caudal, heterogeneidad del sustrato). Cada parámetro fue valorado con un puntaje según su magnitud de cambio frente al efecto de un estresor particular, determinándose así la importancia del mismo y su necesidad de uso en los métodos para evaluar el estado ecológico de los ríos. Se determinó que en cualquier evaluación del estado ecológico de los ríos es necesario medir un conjunto básico de variables físicas y químicas del agua (ej. O2 disuelto, conductividad, sólidos disueltos totales, temperatura y pH); igualmente, los receptores biológicos macroinvertebrados y peces tuvieron mayor puntaje para evaluar casi todos los estresores, así como los parámetros de nutrientes y morfología del cauce. Se presentan dos casos de estudio en cuencas transfronterizas de Suramérica (Lacar-Valdivia entre Argentina y Chile, Mira entre Colombia y Ecuador) para valorar la efectividad de la matriz de priorización de parámetros aquí empleada. En situaciones de planeación y ordenación de cuencas hidrográficas transfronterizas o regiones con administraciones diferentes es pertinente aplicar esta matriz de referencia para calibrar y compartir métodos, protocolos y biomonitoreos aplicados en los ríos.
... A second group of articles brings together 4 papers in which ecological monitoring and analysis permit the authors to propose local and international management and conservation measures. Two articles explore local ecological studies: one focused on ecology of phytoplankton blooms in United Kingdom canals, with the aim of helping to control harmful algal blooms (Kelly and Hassall 2018); and the other analyses the effects of agricultural activity and land use on streams of Andean Choco in Ecuador (Morabowen et al. 2019). Both studies highlight severe human impacts and suggest management practices to avoid unwanted effects on biodiversity. ...
Article
Assessment of freshwater ecosystems is crucial for measuring their ecological status and providing primary information for their conservation. This editorial introduces a special section of Inland Waters regarding the study of ecological monitoring and biodiversity conservation of inland waters. Papers in this special section of Inland Waters are briefly described and a synthesis of the topic is provided to offer a summary of contents and an overview of the subject matter.
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The lack of knowledge about freshwater biodiversity in remote areas like montane Andean rivers is noticeable and hinder the development of efficient conservation plans for aquatic ecosystems. Habitat requirements of tropical Andean fishes have been poorly analysed, despite the relevance of these ecological features on the fish conservation strategies. The present study aimed to examine fish assemblages along the altitudinal gradient in tropical Andean rivers and their relationship to habitat features to detect the most relevant abiotic factors and their implication on conservation. This study was conducted on a regional scale, along six basins located in tropical Andes (500 to 2,692 m a.s.l.). We studied fish diversity and distribution and their habitats along these elevation gradients. We found 6,320 specimens from 53 genera. Our analysis for the six most common and widely distributed genera (Astroblepus, Brycon, Bryconamer-icus, Chaetostoma, Pimelodella and Trichomycterus) underlines the relevance of hydromorphological variables on fish community structure in the Andean montane rivers, whereas human alterations seem to be less significant. These findings could be useful for current management and conservation strategies considering present threats over tropical montane rivers.
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Paul Colinvaux and his Ecuadorian student Miriam Steinitz-Kannan were the first modern scientists to study limnology in Ecuador in the 1960s and 1970s. Fifty years later, Steinitz-Kannan continues this research along with many collaborators, focusing on Andean, Amazonian, and Galapagos lakes, particularly their paleolimnology, physical/chemical parameters, and plankton communities. Historically, Ecuador’s inland and Pacific waters were studied and described by European explorers, including Juan de Velasco, Alexander von Humboldt, and Charles Darwin. In modern times, other Europeans followed Colinvaux and Steinitz-Kannan. In the 1990s, Dean Jacobsen extended limnologic studies to Ecuadorian stream ecology, focusing on macroinvertebrates from streams covering wide environmental gradients. In the 2000s, Günter Gunkel intensively studied several Andean lakes in northern Ecuador. In the 2010s, Willem Van Colen and Ecuadorian colleagues continued limnologic research in Andean lakes located in Azuay and Imbabura provinces. The Instituto Antárctico Ecuatoriano has, and continues to, conduct limnological research in Ecuador’s Antarctic territory on Greenwich Island. Going forward, Ecuadorian universities are training their students to take the research initiative, inspiring a limnologic renaissance at a critical time when the country’s water resources are increasingly threatened by climate change and human impacts.
Article
In many mountainous areas, glaciers feed streams characterised by harsh environmental conditions, such as low water temperature, high turbidity, low channel stability, and high temporal variability in flow. Additionally, in many glacierised catchments, the mixture of streams arising from different water sources (glacier melt, groundwater, rainfall) generates high levels of environmental heterogeneity, which enhance species turnover rates and increase regional diversity. Studies from mainly temperate regions have revealed some consistent patterns: a predominance of traits adaptive to harsh environmental conditions and reduced functional diversity with increased glaciality, both strongly related to environmental filtering. Here, we investigated variation in functional structure and diversity between macroinvertebrate communities from 15 stream sites, with different water sources (five glacier‐fed, five groundwater‐fed, and five mixed source) and level of glacier influence, in a glacierised catchment in the Ecuadorian Andes. Our results revealed functional differences between communities inhabiting the different stream types. As found in temperate regions, high levels of glaciality were associated with an increase of small‐sized taxa that do not swim but are temporarily attached to or burrow in the substrate, have a flying‐adult stage, and feed by collecting–gathering. Similarly, we found a general decrease in functional diversity at sites with higher glacier influence. A null modelling approach suggested that in some of our glacier‐fed sites, environmental filtering may be the main driver of community assembly, whereas other mechanisms, mainly regional (such as dispersal), but also local (such as intraspecific competition), may gain importance as glacier influence decreases. Assemblage composition in streams in tropical glacierised catchments may be driven by both local and regional processes that generate a gradient of decreasing functional diversity with stronger glacier influence. However, lack of knowledge of relevant traits for taxa in tropical glacierised streams currently poses a substantial obstacle to predicting changes likely to arise from global warming and glacier melt in this region.
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Human activities during the last decades provoked a notable reduction in global forest cover. Knowing that forest stands act as stock and sinks for carbon and other greenhouse gases, it is important to determine the existing forest cover at country level and to calculate annual deforestation rates. This work uses NOAA satellite images in a resolution of 1 km x 1 km to classify the surface of continental Ecuador in “forest” – “non-forest” pixels and to estimate the annual deforestation rate from 1986 to 2001 as well as from 2001 to 2008. The method is based on a decision tree algorithm that includes different spectral bands of the NOAA-AVHRR sensor and additional topographic and meteorological parameters. The results show that the total forest cover of continental Ecuador was reduced from 48.1 % in 1986 to 36.8 % in 2008. The calculated annual deforestation rates indicate that forest reduction increased during the last decade. The most affected area is the Coastal Lowland, due to the enhanced population pressure, followed by the Amazon Basin, not only caused by the governmental supported oil and mining industry, but also due to the uncontrolled timber extraction. The Andean Highland has been less affected, because the major parts of this region were deforested before, during the Pre-Columbian-Era.
Book
This revised and updated edition of the bestselling Methods in Stream Ecology reflects the latest advances in the technology associated with ecological assessment of streams. In this second edition, all chapters have been updated and modified to reflect the most contemporary protocols covering 6 vital areas of stream ecology: Physical Stream Ecology; Material Transport, Uptake, and Stora Stream B Community Interactions; Ecosystem Processes; and Ecosystem Quality. Each chapter contains basic methods suitable for teaching undergraduate or graduate students and advanced methods for conducting state-of-the-art research. Suitable as a textbook for a course in stream or river ecology, this book is also a critical reference for professional aquatic ecologists, natural resource managers, and for those entering the field of stream ecology who wish to evaluate the condition of streams or their watersheds.