Suggestions for diatom-based monitoring in intermittent streams
Over the last decades, river lentification processes and droughts have been dramatically spreading worldwide, due to global and local drastic changes due to human activities. Under this scenario, the evaluation of physical disturbance caused by intermittency and droughts has become more and more relevant. In this research, we compare samples collected in Mediterranean streams following both traditional and experimental approaches with the aim of understanding if diatom indices calculated from a new sampling strategy could provide additional information for the physical disturbance assessment. Moreover, we also evaluated the response of functional metrics. Our results demonstrated that even though an enhanced sampling method better reflects hydrological disturbance than the traditional one, diatom indices do not detect it. Conversely, functional traits proved to be important metrics for the hydrological disturbance assessment. In particular, benthic diatom chlorophyll a showed significantly lower values in sections more subject to droughts. With respect to ecological guilds, the motile taxa proved to be linked to depositional areas, which resulted important microhabitats (MHs) to be explored in rivers affected by lentification. Including different MHs in the sampling process improves the information we can obtain from the analysis of the diatom community and presents important implications in documenting species distribution and autecology.