Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (12): 1298-1308.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019157

• Original Papers:Animal Diversity • Previous Article     Next Article

Diversity in benthic and environmental characteristics on alpine micro-waterbodies and stream ecosystems in northwest Yunnan

Shuoran Liu1, 2, 3, Daode Yang1, *(), Xianfu Li2, 3, 4, Lu Tan4, Jun Sun5, Xiaoyang He5, Wenshu Yang5, Guopeng Ren2, 3, Davide Fornacca2, 3, Qinghua Cai4, Wen Xiao2, 3, *()   

  1. 1 Institute of Wildlife Conservation, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004
    2 Institute of Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Research, Dali University, Dali, Yunnan 671003
    3 Collaborative Innovation Center for Biodiversity and Conservation in the Three Parallel Rivers Region of China, Dali, Yunnan 671003
    4 State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072
    5 Gongshan Administration Bureau, Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve, Nujiang, Yunnan 673500
  • Received:2019-05-08 Accepted:2019-09-26 Online:2020-02-22
  • Yang Daode,Xiao Wen;

Due to the small area and the cascaded structure formed by surface water, alpine micro-waterbodies are often considered to have similar habitats to alpine streams. However, due to the differences between the environmental factors and the benthic diversity, the functions of these two habitats in the ecosystem may be completely different. Northwest Yunnan hosts one of the richest global biodiversity hotspots where alpine micro-waterbodies and streams are densely concentrated. These two fresh water ecosystems have important functions in regional benthic biodiversity maintenance, however, these peculiar freshwater ecosystems have barely received research attention. In order to compare the similarities and differences of environmental factors and biodiversity between these two habitats and their maintenance effects on benthic diversity, in this study, benthic biodiversity and the environmental factors of 27 alpine micro-waterbodies and a stream in the same region (9 sample sites within an altitude gradient of 500 m) were investigated in an alpine valley of Gongshan County, Nujiang, Yunnan Province in June of 2015. Results showed that: (1) The common characteristics of benthic communities in alpine micro-waterbodies and the stream were that the dominant taxa have large population size, while, the rare taxa had higher richness but small population size. (2) However, the environmental factors, species diversity, functional diversity and community structures were quite different between the alpine micro-waterbodies and the stream, the alpine stream had higher species richness, species diversity and functional diversity than alpine micro-waterbodies. (3) the benthic biodiversity and formation of community structure in alpine stream were related to the elevation and aquatic environmental factors relating to flow rate regulation, while, the aquatic environmental factors of alpine micro-waterbodies did not act as the drivers for the distribution of benthic biodiversity. Therefore, these findings suggest that alpine micro-waterbodies and streams are distinct ecosystems that each feature has very different characteristics, they cannot be regarded as similar ecosystem types. Both of them play an important role in the maintenance of regional benthic biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

Key words: alpine freshwater ecosystem, environmental heterogeneity, community structure, biodiversity maintenance, Gaoligong Mountain

Fig. 1

Research area and sampling sites. The micro-waterbodies (MWB) which are circled indicate that the water flow from the micro-waterbody cascades is running into the stream finally."

Table 1

List of the descriptive statistics and difference in environmental variables between stream and micro-waterbody"

Environmental variables
微水体 Micro-waterbody 溪流 Stream
平均值 ± 标准差
Mean ± SD
平均值 ± 标准差
Mean ± SD
海拔 Alt (m) ns2 3,266.00 3,332.00 3,299.70 ± 27.34 3,087.00 3,586.00 3,364.90 ± 188.82
电导率 Cond (μs/cm) **2 2.94 10.45 5.12 ± 1.33 10.82 34.50 17.54 ± 8.84
溶解氧含量 DO (mg/L) **1 3.13 7.51 5.68 ± 0.92 6.22 7.18 6.72 ± 0.27
pH值 pH **1 5.48 6.20 5.84 ± 0.24 5.80 6.55 6.23 ± 0.26
面积 Area (m2) none 3.00 160.00 26.15 ± 33.65 / / /
水深 Depth (cm) *1 8.00 43.00 27.70 ± 10.09 6.00 26.00 18.33 ± 6.48
底泥深度 BSD (cm) none 9.50 58.00 26.09 ± 13.02 / / /
浊度 Turb (NTU) ns1 0.00 3.70 1.42 ± 1.08 0.00 2.40 0.98 ± 1.06
总氮 TN (mg/L) ns1 0.096 0.729 0.300 ± 0.170 0.115 0.445 0.280 ± 0.110
总磷 TP (mg/L) ns1 0.024 0.104 0.046 ± 0.016 0.036 0.068 0.050 ± 0.010
化学需氧量 COD (mg/L) *1 0.160 4.730 2.150 ± 1.290 0.160 5.056 3.320 ± 1.420
总有机碳含量 TOC (mg/L) ns1 0.924 7.590 4.270 ± 1.640 3.043 6.963 4.800 ± 1.070
溪流宽度 Width (m) none / / / 0.50 5.30 2.53 ±1.78
溪流流速 FV (m/s) none / / / 0.16 0.93 0.58 ± 0.31

Fig. 2

Biplot of PCoA calculated based on environmental factors. AS indicates stream sites, AU and AD indicate micro-waterbody sites. Depth, Water depth; Area, Waterbody surface area; Width, Stream width; FV, Flow velocity; Cond, Conductivity; Turb, Turbidity."

Fig. 3

Species abundance ranking curves for alpine micro-waterbody (A) and stream (B). Arrows indicate the inflection point of the curve between the dominant taxa and rare taxa. X axis refers to the species order in Appendix 1."

Fig. 4

Heatmap of the benthic species distribution among the collection sites. The species abundance for each taxon marked by the color shade"

Fig. 5

The Venn diagram between the micro-waterbody and stream by taxon richness"

Table 2

List of the species richness, species diversity and functional diversity between stream and micro-waterbody"

微水体 Micro-waterbody 溪流 Stream
平均值 ±
Mean ± SD


平均值 ±
Mean ± SD
S ns1 3.00 10.00 6.26 ± 2.07 3.00 12.00 8.67 ± 3.43
H' *1 0.882 1.649 1.240 ± 0.250 1.011 2.265 1.720 ± 0.460
FDis **1 0.000 0.469 0.220 ± 0.130 0.544 0.968 0.820 ± 0.130

Fig. 6

Biplot of CCA which calculated based on the benthic community data and environmental factors. hydrogen ion concentration (pH), flow velocity (FV) and conductivity (Cond). AS indicates stream sites, AU and AD indicate micro-waterbody sites. Alt, Altitude; FV, Flow velocity; Cond, Conductivity."

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