Benthic macroinvertebrate community patterns of Mediterranean forested wetlands and their relation to changes in the hydroperiod

The macroinvertebrate community of Mediterranean forested wetlands (FW) in Southern Chile was studied to determine their temporary distribution patterns in relation to changes in the hydroperiod. A total of 540 samples were collected over a period of one year using three complementary techniques. The results indicated a total of 80 taxa dominated by Chironomidae, Oligochaeta and Hyallela araucana. These communities presented significant differences among wetlands with different water regimes (ANOSIM Global R 0.45,p = 0.001) and between different seasons (p < 0.05). The seasonal differences were clearer in temporary wetlands, which were directly related to depth changes (r > 0.64,p < 0.05). These differences were primarily due to the following taxa: Asellidae, Chironomidae, Hyallela araucana, Littoridina sp. and Oligochaeta. An important number of exclusive and rare taxa were also determined according to the different regimes. The clear influence of the hydroperiod on the community patterns of the benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI) and the importance of conserving these ecosystems as reservoirs of a unique diversity that distinguish these types of wetlands are discussed.

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