Relations between environmental gradients and diversity indices of benthic invertebrates in lotic systems of northern Italy
Abstract. The relations between environmental gradients, as measured by 19 independent variables, and traditional diversity indices (taxonomic richness, diversity and evenness) of benthic macroinvertebrate communities in the lotic systems of northern Italy were analyzed. Redundancy analysis (RDA) was used to describe the response of taxa to environmental gradients. Diversity indices were analyzed using generalized linear models (GLMs) with explanatory variables the first two major RDA axes. The results from RDA showed that taxa variance is mostly explained by altitude/latitude and combined pollution gradients. Taxonomic richness and diversity was higher in the low polluted upland sites (LPUs) in comparison to high polluted lowland sites (HPLs), suggesting that headwater streams have higher taxonomic richness than downstream reaches. On the other hand, evenness was lower in LPUs, probably due to the dominance of some taxa (e.g., Plecoptera) that are more tolerant of colder conditions.