Aquatic macroinvertebrates as water quality bioindicators in Colombia: A systematic review

Dennis Castillo-Figueroa, Laura L. Garzón-Salamanca, Juan F. Albarracín-Caro


The use of aquatic macroinvertebrates to assess water quality has been growing during the last 50 years in Colombia. We conducted a systematic review of 109 references to analyze scientific production related to the evaluation of water quality in Colombian freshwater ecosystems, using aquatic macroinvertebrates. We describe bibliographical, geographical, ecological, and methodological characteristics of these studies. In the last two decades, there was an increase of more than 50% of publications. The Andean region was the most studied, while the other regions had few research. Lotic ecosystems were widely studied, unlike the lentic ones. The main land use management was agricultural. BMWP and diversity indices were the most used in the analyses. Further research is necessary in lentic ecosystems since they are being severely impacted by anthropogenic pressures, but were not assessed yet. Different regions that harbor diverse aquatic ecosystems (e.g. Amazon, Orinoquia) have been little studied. There is a critical need to revisit traditional indices, aiming at avoiding wrong assumptions about the relation between aquatic macroinvertebrates communities and water quality. For this purpose, it is recommended that assumptions and conditions required for using the indices, high taxonomic resolution, and new approaches, such as effective number of species, are taken into account.

Keywords: aquatic insects, biotic indices, BMWP, diversity indices, lentic ecosystems, lotic ecosystems, water pollution.

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