Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera assemblages of karst springs in relation to some environmental factors: a case study in central Bosnia and Herzegovina


Abstract: In this study we analyzed changes of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) assemblages in 50 springs along the Cvrcka River mainstream in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Springs were divided into 3 groups: rheocrene, rheopsammocrene, and piped springs. The objectives of our survey were to analyze changes in EPT communities in response to some environmental factors and anthropogenic activities. Twenty-eight morphologically distinct taxa were identified. EPT diversity was positively correlated to discharge and areal coverage of sand and stones but negatively correlated with areal coverage of algae. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed that the most important factors in structuring EPT spring assemblages were macrophytes, pH value, water temperature, and conductivity, while a significant influence of altitude for EPT species assemblages was not found. EPT assemblages in springs were dominated by collector-gatherers and shredders. Our results indicate that piped springs significantly differed in EPT taxa distribution and diversity and imply that anthropogenic activities (capturing) would change natural conditions with a decrease in EPT index. The studied springs presented high diversity and some of them constitute the habitat for rare or endemic species (e.g., Drusus crenophylax) of the Balkan Peninsula, giving a high conservation value to these habitats.

Keywords: Springs, EPT assemblage, diversity, environmental factors, functional feeding groups

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