Advances in Understanding Landscape Influences on Freshwater Habitats and Biological Assemblages

Multistatus and Multispatial Scale Assessment of Landscape Effects on Benthic Macroinvertebrates in the Neotropical Savanna

Marcos Callisto, Diego R. Macedo, Marden S. Linares, and Robert M. Hughes


Abstract.—Despite its importance as a global biodiversity hotspot, the Neotropical savanna is threatened by rampant agricultural, hydropower, and mining development. This chapter describes the influence of landscape patterns and land uses on the taxonomic composition and structure of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages in wadeable streams and hydropower reservoirs in the Neotropical savanna, southeastern Brazil. We used the following approaches: (1) an environmental fragility (erodibility) index, (2) an integrated disturbance index, (3) a hemeroby index of natural vegetation change, (4) the spatial distribution of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages, (5) macroinvertebrate multimetric indices, and (6) a simplified macroinvertebrate tolerance index for urban streams. We found that land use and anthropogenic disturbances at the catchment scale had significant effects on the structure and functioning of lotic ecosystems, thereby reducing their ability to deliver ecosystem services. Our results also showed that citizen science projects can successfully apply simple, inexpensive methodologies and open an important dialogue between academia and the society at large. This chapter is a synthesis of multistatus and multispatial scale assessment of landscape effects on benthic macroinvertebrates living in headwaters and hydropower dam reservoirs in the Neotropical savanna. Future challenges include incorporating novel ecological methodologies in ecological syntheses (e.g., eco-bioinformatics), functional trait-based indices and holistic thermodynamic indices, and standardized assessment methodologies. Doing so will further our understanding of the many-layered ecological effects of land use and other anthropogenic disturbances on aquatic biota at landscape scales.