As a step towards the biological assessment of wetlands in South Africa, this study investigates the influence of biotope characteristics on the spatial distribution of aquatic invertebrates. The aim was to assess whether different wetland biotopes support significantly different invertebrate assemblages in terms of the composition and abundance of microcrustaceans and macroinvertebrate taxa. During October 2006, three different biotopes were sampled within Verlorenvlei and Wave's Edge wetlands (Western Cape, South Africa) using a long-handled sweep net. Composition and abundance of invertebrate assemblages were compared between and within sites for each of the wetlands. Assemblage composition generally differed among biotopes within each wetland, as revealed by cluster analysis and MDS plots. At Verlorenvlei, biotopes formed distinctive clusters with low site-specific variability. Assemblage composition at Wave's Edge revealed coarser groupings with clusters distinguishing between vegetated and non-vegetated biotopes only. Biotopes within each wetland differed significantly in terms of taxon richness, Shannon diversity and mean total invertebrate biomass (gm<sup>-3</sup>), whilst mean total density (indm<sup>-3</sup>) differed only between biotopes in Verlorenvlei. Considerable shifts in invertebrate assemblage structure corresponded to differences in electrical conductivity among sites at Verlorenvlei. For large physico-chemically heterogeneous wetlands such as Verlorenvlei, it is suggested that smaller physico-chemically homogenous zones should be identified a priori and within these areas vegetated biotopes should be sampled over the broadest possible spatial scale, whilst open-water biotopes can be sampled more narrowly. For small, reasonably homogenous wetlands such as Wave's Edge, we suggest a less broad spatial representation of biotopes and instead one should concentrate on increasing the number of sample repetitions per site. © 2014 Elsevier GmbH.
Bird, M. S., Day, J. A., & Malan, H. L. (2014). The influence of biotope on invertebrate assemblages in lentic environments: A study of two perennial alkaline wetlands in the Western Cape, South Africa. Limnologica, 48, 16–27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.limno.2014.05.002