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Chironomid assemblages of helocrene springs were investigated in the Western Carpathians in order to identify potential effect of water mineral richness on the taxonomic structure of the assemblages. A complex gradient considering water chemistry and substratum was used as a measure of basicity (mineral richness). Taxonomic structure, total abundance and abundance of most frequent taxa were related to this gradient with regards to two contrasting habitats: trickle (A) and water-loged soil with standing water (B). The variance in chironomid assemblage attributable to basicity was estimated and tested via PERMANOVA as well as the possible effect of the other environmental variables. The response of individual taxa was examined using GAM. The results indicate a strong relationship between basicity and substratum characteristics, with coarser mineral substrata at basic and high amount of organic matter at acidic conditions. Although water chemistry was correlated with and inseparable from these substratum properties, it could not be substituted with them, as they discriminated well only between acidic and basic springs, but did not follow the basicity gradient in either acidic or basic group of springs. Chironomid assemblage showed a strong and systematic response to the complex gradient of mineral richness, which explained the largest portion of variance in both the habitat A and B faunal data and was projected on the first axes of both NMDS ordinations. The assemblage response could be documented by the preference of several taxa for particular mineral richness conditions, while the number of taxa seemed to be highest in the middle of the basicity gradient. As only 17 samples were analysed so far, the results are considered preliminary and, hopefully, more confident results will be available in near future.
Published online: 17 October 2012.
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