Abstract

Introduction: Streams associated with high Andean wetlands are found in environments where conditions are extreme, highly variable temperature, low atmospheric pressure, intense solar radiation. The macroinvertebrate assemblages have been poorly studied compared to streams located at lower altitudes. On a global and regional scale, the characteristics of macroinvertebrates change with the increase in latitude and altitude (decreasing in richness and variation in composition). At the local level, the effect of acidic waters with high conductivity from springs that join streams generate heterogeneity in water quality and consequently in the characteristics of macroinvertebrate structure. Objective: To compare the diversity, composition and abundance of macroinvertebrates and the physicochemical characteristics of stream water in two high Andean wetlands in Peru. Methodology: Eleven stations located in streams of two high Andean wetlands were studied: 7 in Guitarrachayocc (G) of 43 ha (n = 28) and 4 in Pichccahuasi (P) of 28 ha (n = 8). A Surber sampler (0.3 mm mesh, sampling area of 1 200 cm2) was used to carry out monthly samplings from October 2016 to April 2017. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Non-Parametric-Multivariate-Analysis-Of-Variance (NP-MANOVA) were applied to compare water characteristics. The macroinvertebrate assemblages from the two streams were compared by using a Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA), NP-MANOVA, and a non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis test (α = 0.05). Results: The characteristics of the water were heterogeneous, with significant differences in pH which ranged from 3.2 (± 0.4) to 7.6 (± 0.1) and conductivity ranging from 168.9 (± 91.0) µS / cm to 1 117.0 (± 159.3) µS / cm. In particular, G6 presented the lowest pH values and the highest electrical conductivity, as well as chlorides. A total of 8 126 individuals were collected, distributed in 26 taxa from 20 families, 11 orders and five classes. Insects were the most diverse and abundant group. Differences were found between the streams of the highland wetlands, despite their proximity: in G, 25 taxa were registered, with a dominance of Macrelmis sp., Dicrotendipes sp., Claudioperla sp. and Meridialaris sp. and in P, 9, with a dominance of Pedrowygomya sp., Hyalella sp. and Dicrotendipes sp. The density was 475 ind./m2 and 31 ind./m2 for G and P respectively, these values were statistically different (p < 0.05). The PCoA and PCA confirmed by NP-MANOVA showed that G6 was different (p < 0.05) within G because it receives water contribution from a spring. Conclusions: The richness, composition and density of macroinvertebrates were different in streams depending on the bofedal with which it is associated. The contribution of the springs to the streams generates drastic changes in the quality of the water and the macroinvertebrates, determining the formation of assemblages with different richness and structure.

Keywords: Assemblages; composition; density; spring; physicochemical characteristics.