Effects of environmental variables on littoral macroinvertebrate community assemblages in subtropical reservoirs

Tatenda Dalu, Pretty Dlamini, Ryan J. Wasserman, Matjutla J. Mokgoebo, Thendo Mutshekwa, Farai Dondofema, Ross N. Cuthbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropogenic pressures on standing waterbody systems potentially result in changes to sediment and water qualities, and thus ecological community characteristics. We tested effects of drawdown on physical, water and sediment variables, as well as their effects on littoral macroinvertebrate community composition in two subtropical reservoirs. Water levels differed significantly between reservoirs and over time, with significant effects on several water chemistry parameters (e.g., pH, conductivity, Mg, Fe), whilst sediment properties were less affected. Significant effects of water level, site and macrophyte cover on macroinvertebrate community structures were not detected, however macroinvertebrate community structuring differed significantly over time. Redundancy analysis (RDA) highlighted that the first and second axes accounted for 45.6% of the total macroinvertebrate community and environmental variables relationship variance. Most of the sediment variables, such as Cu, Mg, Na and Pb and water chemistry (i.e., HCO3-), were positively associated with the first axis, while water temperature and pH were negatively associated with the first axis. The RDA variation partitioning showed that water and sediment chemistry variables accounted for 40.3% and 30.3%, respectively, of the total macroinvertebrate variation. The present study contributes to understandings of the interplays between water level, physico-chemical properties and community compositions in human-altered aquatic ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages18
JournalChemistry and Ecology
Issue number5
Early online date09 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Littoral macroinvertebrates
  • biomonitoring
  • reservoir ecology
  • sediment chemistry
  • water-level fluctuations


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of environmental variables on littoral macroinvertebrate community assemblages in subtropical reservoirs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this