Aquatic Oligochaete Communities in Amazonian Streams, Saracá-Taquera National Forest, Pará, Brazil

Abstract: The aim of this study was to analyze aquatic oligochaete distribution in relation to water column physicochemical variables, structural environmental variation, and predominant substrates in the preserved Amazonian streams of the Saracá-Taquera National Forest (FLONA Saracá-Taquera), northwest Pará, Brazil. Oligochaetes are widely used as bioindicators for monitoring aquatic environments as they are very sensitive to pollution and environmental changes. Physicochemical and structural variables were measured from 100 stream segments in order to understand the distribution of oligochaetes in Amazonian streams. Biotic samples were collected using Surber samplers in three of the most predominant substrate types in each segment. PERMANOVA testing showed that there was a significant difference in the oligochaete community among some substrates, potentially caused by a difference in the abundance of the most common taxa. Canonical Correspondence Analysis showed that physical variables drive the distribution of oligochaetes in preserved Amazonian streams, as they determine the formation of different substrates along the stream, from the source to the mouth; favoring the presence of oligochaetes with more specific ecological needs in low-order streams, and the presence of oligochaetes capable of colonizing various types of substrates and deeper zones in high-order streams. These results suggest that water depth and channel width are the main drivers of aquatic oligochaete distribution along Amazonian streams, determining the formation of unstable and low-quality substrates and, consequently, the low colonization by oligochaetes in high-order streams; and more diverse and stable substrate formation in low-order streams, favoring the colonization by diverse taxa of aquatic oligochaetes in low-order Amazonian streams.