Original paper

Spatial variance of profundal and sublittoral invertebrate benthic communities in response to eutrophication and morphological pressures

Pilotto, Francesca; Free, Gary; Cardoso, Ana Cristina; Wolfram, Georg; Solimini, Angelo G.


Invertebrate communities inhabiting different lake zones are expected to respond differently to natural environmental variation and anthropogenic stressors. We used multivariate statistical methods in order to quantify the effects of eutrophication and morphological pressures on the spatial structure of the invertebrate benthic communities at two depth zones (profundal and sublittoral) in subalpine lakes in Italy, Germany and Austria . In both lake zones, environmental variables related to eutrophication pressures (mid-lake total phosphorus and chlorophyll-a) were significant in structuring the invertebrate community (permutation test: p < 0.01). three variables relating to morphological pressures (diversity of macrophyte growth forms, sum of pressures in the lake shore, and percentage of natural land cover within a 200 m stretch from the lake shore) were significant (permutation test: p < 0.01) in the sublittoral zone, while in the profundal zone none of the variables included in the analysis related to morphological pressures were significant in structuring the invertebrate community. variance partitioning analysis showed that profundal communities were mainly affected by eutrophication (8.6 % of total variance; p = 0.005), while in the sublittoral zone eutrophication accounted for only 0.5 % (p = 0.04) of total variance. The effects of morphological pressures could be tracked only in the sublittoral zone, where it accounted for 0.8 % of total variance (p = 0.015). The spatial component was responsible for a large part of the total variance (58.7 % in the profundal, p = 0.005; 44.2 % in the sublittoral zone, p = 0.005) and had interactions with stressor variables in both lake zones. Therefore the analysis of spatial patterns should be included in assessment systems relating invertebrate assemblages to pressures.


lake sublittoral zonelake profundal zoneinvertebrate communityeutrophicationmorphological pressuresrdavariance partitioning