Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ecological quality, macroinvertebrate communities and diversity in rivers in Leyte, Philippines

Researchers from the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Belgium, in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Tropical Ecology and Environmental Management of Visayas State University in Leyte have published scientific evidence of a strong link between ecological quality and macroinvertebrate communities and diversity in rivers in Leyte.

In a paper published this year (2017) in the prestigious journal Ecological Indicators, Vol. 77 and pages 228-238, Marie Anne Eurie Forio and colleagues assessed the macroinvertebrate communities, diversity, and ecological quality of 85 rivers on Leyte island. Specifically, they evaluated the biological (macroinvertebrates), chemical, physical and hydromorphological characteristics. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) and multivariable linear regression (LRM) were performed to relate the environmental variables and macroinvertebrates.

Eurie Forio and Daphne Radam during the field sampling in Cabintan, Ormoc
(at the central highlands of Leyte) in 2015
The researchers found several taxa of snails, shrimps, dragonflies, beetles, bugs and caddisflies. Although many sites had good to very good ecological quality and high diversity, about 41% had moderate to very bad ecological quality and low diversity. Based on CCA, the researchers concluded that macroinvertebrate communities were associated with velocity, sediment, conductivity and dissolved oxygen. They also observed that sensitive and tolerant taxa were encountered at high and low flow velocities, respectively. Moreover, LRM indicated that macroinvertebrate diversity and ecological quality were associated with physical (turbidity), chemical (chlorophyll), hydromorphological characteristics (bank slope & pool/riffle class), habitat degradation (gravel/sand quarrying, erosion) and the presence of logs and twigs.

Eurie Forio (lead author) and Prof. Peter Goethals (lead scientist)
This ecological study, the first of its kind (i.e. covering 85 rivers of an entire tropical island) to be conducted in the Philippines, supports the use of invertebrates as indicators of certain environmental conditions and the results of this investigation can serve as a basis to set up dedicated experiments to further prove the causality of these discovered relations. 

The study also revealed that organic pollution, as reflected by biological oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand, was weakly related to invertebrate composition, diversity and ecological quality. This was linked to the low input in most sites and the relatively short rivers which are closely connected to the marine system. Thus, typical midstream and downstream systems were not encountered and the accumulation of these pollutants along the river is less likely. Although the island encounters intensive natural disturbances (e.g. severe typhoons), the taxa (families) were similar to those in other tropical systems and the effects of the environmental conditions were comparable.

The findings of this collaborative research are relevant and valuable in understanding the ecology of tropical islands. They also provide insights into the effects of environmental conditions on stream invertebrates, which aids in protecting and conserving tropical insular systems.


Forio, M.A.E., K. Lock, E.D. Radam, M. Bande, V.B. Asio and P.L.M. Goethals (2017). Assessment and analysis of ecological quality, macroinvertebrate communities and diversity in rivers of a multifunctional tropical island. Ecological Indicators 77 (2017) 228–238

No comments: