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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Habitat selection and sampling design for ecological assessment of heterogeneous ponds using macroinvertebrates

Fernandez-Alaez, Camino; Garcia-Criado, Francisco; Trigal, Cristina


1. Habitat heterogeneity has many implications in ecological assessment studies. On one hand it provides varying niches for organisms, increasing diversity. On the other hand, the inherent spatial variability of structurally complex systems may overlap with ecological condition making it difficult to disentangle the effects of perturbation. This study investigated the combined and single effects of habitat and pond condition on the macroinvertebrate assemblages of 35 ponds located in north-west Spain and spanning a range of water quality and habitat characteristics. 2. Macroinvertebrate communities and several environmental variables were sampled in the summer of 2004 or 2003. Samples were collected from four dominant habitats (vegetated shores, shores without vegetation, submerged vegetation, bare sediments) following a time-limited sampling. Non-metric multidimensional scaling and two-way crossed ANOSIM were used to investigate the taxonomic and functional differences in macroinvertebrate assemblage structure among habitats (four types) and pond conditions (optimal, good, moderate, poor, very poor). To investigate the individual and combined effects of pond condition and habitat on several diversity measures GLM models were used. In addition, the accuracy of two sampling designs — stratified and multihabitat — was compared using the CVs of seven macroinvertebrate attributes. 3. Results showed that macroinvertebrate communities differed significantly, albeit weakly, among habitat types and pond condition categories. In particular, the abundance of several Chironomidae genera, rarefied richness and Shannon index decreased both in perturbed systems and bare sediments, whereas no marked differences occurred between shores and submerged vegetation. 4. We suggest that a multihabitat approach together with the use of community attributes not (or slightly) affected by habitat type will provide more comparable results across ponds than a stratified approach or observation of the whole community, especially in ponds where degradation leads to habitat loss.

Published in

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
2009, volume: 19, number: 7, pages: 786-796
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons

Authors' information

Fernandez-Alaez, Camino
Garcia-Criado, Francisco
Trigal, Cristina
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

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