Longitudinal variation in the composition of the benthic macroinvertebrate fauna of a typical North coast Jamaican river.
Benthic macroinvertebrate fauna plays a major role in river ecosystems, especially those of tropical islands. Since there is no information on the distribution of benthic invertebrates along a Jamaican river, we report here on the composition of the benthic fauna of the Buff Bay river, on the Northern coast of Jamaica. A total of 14 samples were collected from five sites, using kick nets and a Surber sampler, between May 1997 and October 1998. We also examined the applicability of the rhithron/potamon model, and some of the premises of the River Continuum Concept (RCC) in relation to the distribution of invertebrate taxa. The results showed a total of 38 taxa of identified invertebrates. A group of dominant taxa, composed mainly of immature stages of insects, occurred at all sites. Two notable characteristics of the river were the absence of a true potamonic fauna and the low representation of the shredder functional feeding group in the community We conclude that, while there was minor variation in the composition of the benthic macroinvertebrate fauna among the sites, this was a response to local conditions within the river system. The characteristics of the community did not conform to either of the models.
Keywords: reshwater, invertebrates, community composition, longitudinal zonation, river continuum concept, caribbean