Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 8, pp 6591–6606 | Cite as

Maximum ecological potential of tropical reservoirs and benthic invertebrate communities

  • Joseline Molozzi
  • Maria João Feio
  • Fuensanta Salas
  • João Carlos Marques
  • Marcos Callisto


The Reference Condition Approach (RCA) is now widely adopted as a basis for the evaluation of the ecological quality of water bodies. In accordance with the RCA, the integrity of communities found in a given location should be analyzed according to their deviation from the communities that would be expected in the absence of anthropogenic disturbances. The RCA was used here with the aim of defining the Maximum Ecological Potential (MEP) of tropical reservoirs located in the hydrographical basin of the Paraopeba River in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Among the reservoirs, Serra Azul is used as a water supply and is located in a core area of environmental protection where tourism is not allowed and the native vegetation is conserved. The benthic macroinvertebrate communities at 90 sites located in three reservoirs were analyzed and sampled every 3 months over 2 years. The temporal patterns of the communities in the three reservoirs were analyzed (2nd-STAGE MDS and ANOSIM) and were not significantly related to seasonal fluctuations in temperature and precipitation. Twenty-eight sites belonging to the Serra Azul reservoir were selected to define the MEP of these reservoirs because these sites had the lowest human disturbance levels. The macroinvertebrate taxa present in the selected MEP sites are similar to those of natural lakes and different from the communities of disturbed sites. The biological classification of these sites revealed two groups with distinct macroinvertebrate communities. This distinction was related to climatic variables, bottom substrate type, the presence of gravel/boulders, coarse sand, silt, clay or muck, depth, and the shoreline substrate zone. These two subsets of biological communities and respective environmental conditions can serve as a basis for the future implementation of ecological quality monitoring programs for tropical reservoirs in the study area. This approach can also, however, be implemented in other geographic areas with artificial or heavily modified water bodies.


Reservoirs Macroinvertebrates Reference condition approach Tropical region 



The authors would like to thank FAPEMIG and CAPES for the doctoral fellowship and “sandwich” scholarship awarded to the first author, for the financial and logistical support provided through projects and partnerships with Project Manuelzão/UFMG, PETROBRAS-SA, COPASA, FAPEMIG, CNPq, CAPES, US Fish and Wildlife Service and IMAR-Coimbra. Thanks also to the colleagues of the Laboratorio de Ecologia de Bentos–UFMG for their support in the field collections, especially Sophia de Sousa Morais (in memory) for all her help. This paper was written while MC was a sabbatical visitor (CAPES fellowship No. 4959/09-4) at the IMAR, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal. MJF acknowledge the Institute of Marine Research–CMA and the Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology (FCT) for the financial support through the FSE, POPH, and COMPETE.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseline Molozzi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Maria João Feio
    • 2
  • Fuensanta Salas
    • 2
    • 3
  • João Carlos Marques
    • 2
  • Marcos Callisto
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia Geral, Laboratório de Ecologia de Bentos, Instituto de CiênciasUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Life Sciences, IMAR - Institute of Marine Research, Faculty of Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.TRAGSAMurciaSpain
  4. 4.Departamento de Biologia Geral, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Laboratório de Ecologia de Bentos, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Estadual da ParaíbaCampina GrandeBrazil

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