Complementarity between two metrics which use invertebrates to assess riparian conditions of rivers.
Conservation of streams involves an understanding of their physical , chemical and biological entities. SASS5 is a biomonitoring method developed to monitor the habitat quality of a water body. It is based on differential scores attributed to various macroinvertebrate families with varying degrees of sensitivity to anthropogenic impact. This method , however, does not assess impacts on particular species. Odonata are good candidates for study at the species level as they are well researched and males are easily identified . As adults, they are known to be sensitive indicators of both riparian and river conditions. Yet Odonata cannot be an umbrella taxon for all other taxa . Therefore, the main aim of this study is to determine the complementarity of the two metrics (Odonata assemblages and SASS5), establishing whether Odonata assemblages offer additional information on, or insight into, riverine habitat quality as portrayed by SASS5. To accomplish this, certain objectives were addressed . 1) The variation of SASS5 scores and 2) Odonata assemblages between river systems, structural habitat types (open or closed canopies) and compositional habitat types (indigenous or alien vegetation). 3) Whether SASS5 scores vary to the same extent, and, 4) on the same spatial scale (river system and point localities) as Odonata abundance and species richness . The relationship between these two metrics was determined along three rivers in the Pietermaritzburg basin. Sampling units (SUs) with extremes in vegetation structure (sunlight and shaded SUs) and vegetation composition (alien or indigenous) were selected. Using this range of environmental conditions placed environmental extremes on the macroinvertebrate populations at point localities and having three different river systems added the dimension of variation over a broader scale, thus stretching the two metrics to investigate whether both responded similarly or in different ways. Results indicated that both metrics provide a similar portrait of overall river conditions. At the smaller spatial scale, the Odonata assemblage, unlike SASS, was highly sensitive to the riparian vegetation. Odonata species were less sensitive to vegetation composition but differentially sensitive to vegetation structure. However, landscape context is also important, with point localities being affected by the neighboring dominant habitat type. Larval Odonata alone did not provide this information. Overall, aquatic macroinvertebrates and adult Odonata provide a highly complementary pair of metrics that together provide large spatial scale (river system) and small spatial scale (point localities) information on the level of impact of stressors such as riparian invasive alien trees.