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null (Ed.)Introduction: Latin America is a highly urbanized region, with most of its population living in cities and urban centers. While information about urban streams in Latin America is rather limited, streams are expected to experience similar environmental impacts and conservation issues as urban streams in parts of the globe, including habitat loss, channelization, sewage discharge, trash, and loss of riparian habitats. Objective: We surveyed a network of researchers from approximately 80% of the countries in Latin America to obtain information on the condition, state of knowledge, and threats to urban streams in the region. Methods: Most participants were reached via the Macrolatinos@ network (www.macrolatinos.net). Results: We obtained 104 responses from researchers in 18 of the 23 Latin American countries. Most urban streams are impacted or degraded, and inputs of contaminants and wastewater discharges were considered major drivers of stream degradation. Most respondents indicated that stream channelization is common, with some streams completely channelized or buried. Sewage and rainfall runoff management were identified as a major factor degrading streams, with most respondents suggesting that streams are a primary destination for wastewater discharge, much of which is untreated. Major limitations to urban stream conservation in Latin America are the result of limited ecological knowledge, lack of citizen interest or political will to protect them. There are isolated efforts to restore urban streams and riparian zones, but these are initial steps that need further development. Conclusions: Our research network of Latin American scientists proved to be a valuable tool to assess a large number of urban rivers in a relatively understudied region. Urban streams in Latin America face a diversity of stressors and management challenges, and we propose three areas that would benefit from further research to improve our understanding and management of these systems: (1) Studies should focus on the watershed, rather than isolated reaches, (2) researchers should strive to attain a better understanding of ecosystem function and the services provided by urban streams to justify management and restoration efforts, and (3) studies that integrate economic models where downstream users pay for upstream protection and restoration could prove beneficial for many Latin American cities in attempting to address water conservation issues.more » « less
null (Ed.)Introduction: Freshwater research in Latin America has been increasing in recent years, with a large participation of scientists based on local institutions. However, researchers in the region are facing diverse challenges, and we lack a regional overview of the status of freshwater research. Objective: To address this, we surveyed researchers in the region to assess the current activity and challenges faced by the scientific community. We were interested in understanding (1) the type of research currently taking place in the region, (2) the major research gaps, as viewed by local researchers, and (3) the main limitations or obstacles slowing the development of freshwater science in the region. Methods: We prepared a questionnaire with 26 questions regarding the background of participants, their ongoing research priorities, the products generated from their research, and the major limitations they are facing as researchers. Results: We obtained 105 answers from researchers in 19 Latin American countries. Some of the important trends identified included: (1) a focus on stream ecosystems under agricultural and natural forest; (2) emphasis on biodiversity assessment and species inventories; (3) limited ecological research, mostly centered on litter decomposition and food web studies; and (4) communicating research in the form of peer-reviewed papers and reports in gray literature. Major limitations to the scientific activity included: (1) language, with a majority of respondents considering their handling of English a handicap; (2) limited access to research equipment; (3) lack of tools, such as taxonomic keys; and (4) limited research funding. Research needs and priorities resulted in three major areas in need of attention: (1) developing taxonomy and systematics; (2) improving our current understanding of ecology and natural history; and (3) understanding species distributions and biodiversity patterns. Conclusions: Latin America has an active community of scientists. There is a need to diversify research topics, without abandoning traditional research areas (e.g., taxonomy, species distribution). We advocate for more collaboration among scientists with similar research goals, regardless of their affiliation. Improving communication and collaboration among universities and countries within Latin America will certainly facilitate overcoming obstacles and will help shaping a brighter future for freshwater research, and sciences in general, in the region.more » « less
Dragonflies often engage in aggressive interactions over access to mates, food, or other resources. We should expect species to have behavioral adaptations for minimizing such interactions with other species because they are not competing with them for mates and often require different resources. We conducted observational trials in natural water pools that provide new evidence for one such adaptation in the Neotropical dragonfly, Micrathyria atra: males in this species have shorter interactions with individuals of other species than with conspecifics.more » « less
null (Ed.)Background Hydrological impacts on aquatic biota have been assessed in numerous empirical studies. Aquatic insects are severely affected by population declines and consequent diversity loss. However, many uncertainties remain regarding the effects of hydrology on insect production and the consequences of energy transfer to the terrestrial ecosystem. Likewise, sublethal effects on insect morphology remain poorly quantified in highly variable environments. Here, we characterized monthly fluctuation in benthic and emerged biomass of Ephemeroptera in a tropical lowland stream. We quantified the proportion of mayfly production that emerges into the riparian forest. We also examined the potential morphological changes in Farrodes caribbianus (the most abundant mayfly in our samples) due to environmental stress. Methods We collected mayflies (nymphs and adults) in a first-order stream in Costa Rica. We compared benthic and adult biomass from two years’ worth of samples, collected with a core sampler (0.006 m 2 ) and a 2 m 2 -emergence trap. The relationship between emergence and annual secondary production (E/P) was used to estimate the Ephemeroptera production that emerged as adults. A model selection approach was used to determine the relationship between environmental variables that were collected monthly and the emergent biomass. To determine potential departures from perfect bilateral symmetry, we evaluated the symmetry of two morphological traits (forceps and forewing) of F. caribbianus adults. We used Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients (ρ) to examine potential changes in adult body length as a possible response to environmental stress. Results Benthic biomass was variable, with peaks throughout the study period. However, peaks in benthic biomass did not lead to increases in mayfly emergence, which remained stable over time. Relatively constant mayfly emergence suggests that they were aseasonal in tropical lowland streams. Our E/P estimate indicated that approximately 39% and 20% (for 2002 and 2003, respectively) of the nymph production emerged as adults. Our estimated proportion of mayfly production transferred to terrestrial ecosystems was high relative to reports from temperate regions. We observed a strong negative response of F . caribbianus body length to increased hydrology (Spearman: ρ = −0.51, p < 0.001), while slight departures from perfect symmetry were observed in all traits. Conclusion Our two years study demonstrates that there was large temporal variability in mayfly biomass that was unrelated to hydrological fluctuations, but potentially related to trophic interactions (e.g., fish predation). Body length was a good indicator of environmental stress, which could have severe associated costs for mayfly fitness in ecosystems with high temporal variation. Our results highlight the complex ecological and evolutionary dynamics of tropical aquatic insects, and the intricate connection between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.more » « less