Large-scale climatic phenomena drive fluctuations in macroinvertebrate assemblages in lowland tropical streams, Costa Rica: The importance of ENSO events in determining long-term (15y) patterns
Gutiérrez Fonseca, Pablo E.
Ramírez Ulate, Luis Alonso
Pringle, Catherine M.
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Understanding how environmental variables influence the distribution and density of organisms over relatively long temporal scales is a central question in ecology given increased climatic variability (e.g., precipitation, ENSO events). The primary goal of our study was to evaluate long-term (15y time span) patterns of climate, as well as environmental parameters in two Neotropical streams in lowland Costa Rica, to assess potential effects on aquatic macroinvertebrates. We also examined the relative effects of an 8y whole-stream P-enrichment experiment on macroinvertebrate assemblages against the backdrop of this long-term study. Climate, environmental variables and macroinvertebrate samples were measured monthly for 7y and then quarterly for an additional 8y in each stream. Temporal patterns in climatic and environmental variables showed high variability over time, without clear inter-annual or intra-annual patterns. Macroinvertebrate richness and abundance decreased with increasing discharge and was positively related to the number of days since the last high discharge event. Findings show that fluctuations in stream physicochemistry and macroinvertebrate assemblage structure are ultimately the result of large-scale climatic phenomena, such as ENSO events, while the 8y P-enrichment did not appear to affect macroinvertebrates. Our study demonstrates that Neotropical lowland streams are highly dynamic and not as stable as is commonly presumed, with high intra- and inter-annual variability in environmental parameters that change the structure and composition of freshwater macroinvertebrate assemblages.
External link to the item10.1371/journal.pone.0191781
- Biología 
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