ECOLOGY OF BENTHIC CRUSTACEANS IN THE CAUTIN RIVER (38 degrees S, ARAUCANIA REGION, CHILE)
- The Cautin river is located in the Araucania region, Chile (38 degrees S), and is characterized by alterations through human interference in its surrounding basin, by the presence of introduced salmonids, and by its mixed regime, which originates from melting snow in summer and rains in winter. The fauna of this river includes an invertebrate fauna composed of both endemic and widespread species, which has, however, been only poorly studied until now. The aim of the present study was to make a review of the ecological role of the benthic inland water crustaceans of the River Cautin, in order to understand their importance in the ecosystem of the river. The literature revealed the presence of abundant populations of amphipods and freshwater crabs as well as of aquatic insects along the river's course. Many of these crustaceans are prey for both introduced salmonids and native fishes. Similar results have been reported for other southern Argentinean and Chilean Patagonian rivers.