An exploratory analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates as indicators of the ecological status of the Upper Yellow and Yangtze Rivers

Baozhu Pan, Zhaoyin Wang*, Zhiwei Li, Guo an Yu, Mengzhen Xu, Na Zhao, Gary Brierley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study presents findings of the first systematic analysis of aquatic biotic assemblages in the source region of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. It provides an initial basis with which to select representative organisms as indicators to assess the aquatic ecological status of rivers in this region. Macroinvertebrates are considered to be good indicators of long-term environmental changes due to their restricted range and persistence over time. Field investigations of macroinvertebrates were conducted in August 2009 in the source region of the Yellow River, and in July 2010 in the source region of the Yangtze River. Altogether 68 taxa of macroinvertebrates belonging to 29 families and 59 genera were identified. Among them were 8 annelids, 5 mollusks, 54 arthropods and 1 other animal. In the source region of the Yellow River, taxa number, density and biomass of macroinvertebrates were 50, 329 individuals m-2 and 0.3966 g dry weight m-2, respectively. Equivalent figures for the source region of the Yangtze River were 29, 59 individuals m-2 and 0.0307 g dry weight m-2. The lower benthic animal resources in the source region of the Yangtze River are ascribed to higher altitude, higher sediment concentration and wetland degradation. Preliminary findings of this exploratory study indicate that hydroelectric power stations had a weak impact on benthic dwellers but wetland degradation caused by a series of human activities had a catastrophic impact on survival of macroinvertebrates. Ecological protection measures such as conservative grazing and vegetation management are required to minimize grassland degradation and desertification, and reduce soil erosion rate and river sediment discharge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-882
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geographical Sciences
Volume23
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • biodiversity
  • functional feeding group
  • macroinvertebrate
  • standing crops
  • Yangtze River source zone
  • Yellow River source zone

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