Short Term Benthic Colonization Dynamics in an Agricultural Stream Recovering from Slaughterhouse Effluents

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The purpose of this study was to assess short term, macroinvertebrate colonization dynamics and biofilm accumulation in two agricultural streams, one of which had been recently exposed to chronic, intermittent organic effluents from a slaughterhouse. During the winter and summer, macroinvertebrates and biofilm were collected from brick substrates from four or three sites in the streams on a geometric time schedule (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 days of exposure). Invertebrate total densities stabilized quickly, but the mass of biofilm increased throughout the study periods. Invertebrate community indices (diversity, evenness, dominance, richness) differed between the unaffected, "agricultural reference" sites and the affected sites, below the point source. All sites were dominated by Baetis bicaudatus (mayfly), Hydrobia sp. (gastropod), and Dugesia tigrina (Turbellaria). Response of these taxa differed between seasons and exposure to organic effluents. Stream invertebrate colonization processes showed evidence of the perturbation after the inflow of organic effluents had stopped from the slaughterhouse. Chronic organic enrichment reduced the species richness in the potential pool of colonists. Three months after the organic inputs had stopped, colonization timing and community structure was not yet at levels evident in reference and upstream sites.