Spatial and temporal variation of benthic macroinvertebrate communities along an urban river in Greater Manchester, UK.


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK. [Email]


Urban rivers face challenges of increased human activities which also affect river organisms. In order to enhance freshwater biodiversity in urban rivers, it is important to determine how the benthic macroinvertebrate communities are influenced by key abiotic factors. This was investigated in this paper through the study of the spatial and temporal variations of benthic macroinvertebrates and water quality variables at the urban River Medlock in Greater Manchester, UK. Samples were obtained from five sections of the catchment (S1 to S5) over a period of 14 months and the results were compared with the standard requirement of the European Union's Water Framework Directives. Multivariate tests including SIMPER (similarity percentages), PCA (principal component analysis) and BIOENV (biological and environmental) were carried out on the data in order to determine the environmental variables which most influenced the benthic macroinvertebrates. PCA of environmental variables indicated that 34% of the overall variance was heavily weighted on nutrients and catchment area (negatively on altitude and slope), 17% represented river substrate and the 12% represented discharge. The BIOENV analysis also indicated altitude, slope, catchment area, discharge and conductivity as the variables which influenced the biological communities. SIMPER analysis showed a difference between the upper and lower sections of the river with some sensitive taxa at the upper sites and showed that more organisms are present during spring. Apart from the lowest section of the river, the EU Water Framework Directive classification showed that other sites achieved the 'good ecological status'. While 32 taxa groups were identified, abundant Baetidae, Chironomidae and Oligochaeta were recorded at all sites and seasons. The scores for biotic indices Whalley Hawkes Paisley and Trigg (WHPT) and Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) were found to be similar. By the application of surrogate variables such as percentage urban cover, catchment area and total number of organism, the influence of urbanisation could be seen in the abundance of organisms over time and space.


Benthic macroinvertebrates,Biotic indices,Multivariate tests, water quality, urban area,Physicochemical,

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