Most river ecosystems are exposed to multiple anthropogenic stressors affecting the composition and functionality of ben-thic communities. Identifying main causes and detecting potentially alarming trends in time depends on the availability of long-term monitoring data sets. Our study aimed to improve the knowledge about community effects of multiple stressors that is needed for effective, sustainable management and conservation. We conducted a causal analysis to detect the dom-inant stressors and hypothesised that multiple stressors, such as climate change and multiple biological invasions, reduce biodiversity and thus endanger ecosystem stability. Using a data set from 1992 to 2019 for the benthic macroinvertebrate community of a 65-km stretch of the upper Elbe river in Germany, we evaluated the effects of alien species, temperature, discharge, phosphorus, pH and abiotic conditional variables on the taxonomic and functional composition of the benthic community and analysed the temporal behaviour of biodiversity metrics. We observed fundamental taxonomic and func-tional changes in the community, with a shift from collectors/gatherers to filter feeders and feeding opportunists prefer-ring warm temperatures. A partial dbRDA revealed significant effects of temperature and alien species abundance and richness. The occurrence of distinct phases in the development of community metrics suggests a temporally varying impact of different stressors. Taxonomic and functional richness responded more sensitively than the diversity metrics whereas the functional redundancy metric remained unchanged. Especially the last 10-year phase, however, showed a decline in richness metrics and an unsaturated, linear relationship between taxonomic and functional richness, which rather indi-cates reduced functional redundancy. We conclude that the varying anthropogenic stressors over three decades, mainly biological invasions and climate change, affected the community severely enough to increase its vulnerability to future stressors. Our study highlights the importance of long-term monitoring data and emphasises a careful use of biodiversity metrics, preferably considering also community composition.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Science of the total environment|
|Early online date||Mar 2023|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jun 2023|
Sustainable Development Goals
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic biodiversity, Benthic macroinvertebrates, Functional redundancy, Functional richness, Invasive species, Mean summer temperature, Rivers/chemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Biodiversity, Animals, Climate Change, Ecosystem, Introduced Species, Invertebrates