Diversity of benthic biofilms along a land use gradient in tropical headwater streams, Puerto Rico

Microbial Ecology
Sofía Burgos-CaraballoAlonso Ramírez


The properties of freshwater ecosystems can be altered, directly or indirectly, by different land uses (e.g., urbanization and agriculture). Streams heavily influenced by high nutrient concentrations associated with agriculture or urbanization may present conditions that can be intolerable for many aquatic species such as macroinvertebrates and fishes. However, information with respect to how benthic microbial communities may respond to changes in stream ecosystem properties in relation to agricultural or urban land uses is limited, in particular for tropical ecosystems. In this study, diversity of benthic biofilms was evaluated in 16 streams along a gradient of land use at the Turabo watershed in Puerto Rico using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism. Diversity indices and community structure descriptors (species richness, Shannon diversity, dominance and evenness) were calculated for both bacteria and eukaryotes for each stream. Diversity of both groups, bacteria and eukaryotes, did not show a consistent pattern with land use, since it could be high or low at streams dominated by different land uses. This suggests that diversity of biofilms may be more related to site-specific conditions rather than watershed sca...Continue Reading


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