Date of this Version
Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 18 (2020) 277–282
Riparian deforestation may strongly affect stream functioning, with consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem services. These effects can be assessed using bioindicators relating to biotic community structure and ecosystem functioning. We evaluated the effects of riparian deforestation on 1. measures of community structure using aquatic benthic invertebrates, and 2. an aspect of ecosystem functioning, aquatic leaf processing. We selected sites along gradients of riparian land use in four Atlantic rainforest streams and measured physical and chemical properties for their association with riparian deforestation. We sampled benthic invertebrates and calculated metrics of community structure at each site. We measured rates of leaf processing using leaves of a common riparian tree, Guarea guidonia. Riparian deforestation was accompanied by increasing concentration of ammonia, water current and temperature and decreasing nightly oxygen saturation. Invertebrate diversity decreased and community metrics changed with deforestation as expected of negative impacts. Leaf processing decreased with deforestation. Although there were significant differences in physical and chemical measurements among streams, the gradients in community and ecosystem responses were similar, thus suggesting that both types of bioindicators were useful for monitoring changes and relating them to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function.