Metrics of benthic communities and habitat quality associated to different types of land use

ABSTRACT Aquatic ecosystems are under severe anthropogenic modifications. Thus, the dependent biological communities in these environments are also changed. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of urban development in a highly impacted ecosystem. We selected 15 sampling points along the stream Ribeirão Vermelho, in which were sampled benthic macroinvertebrates and assessed the water and habitat diversity. It was found an impact gradient, with some the reference points classified as natural and others as impacted. There was a significant difference in all biological indicators used. The total number of taxa, the wealth of Diptera, the taxa Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera, and the diversity indices, the Water Quality Indices, and the percentage of herbivores crushers and predators were significantly higher in points classified as natural and changed. The relative abundances of collectors, filter feeding, chironomids and parasites were significantly lower in sites classified as natural in relation to impacted ones. The metrics of the macroinvertebrate community benthic and Habitat Diversity Protocol were influenced by environmental degradation, being a useful tool for planning and development actions for the preservation of watersheds and the prioritization of high-value transmission systems for protection and rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystems