Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community as an Indicator of Stream Health: The Effects of Land Use on Stream Benthic Macroinvertebrates

  • Danielle Dominique D. Deborde University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Maria Brenda M. Hernandez University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Francis S. Magbanua University of the Philippines Diliman


Biomonitoring of stream health in the tropics still emphasize on the use of standard water chemistry methods (physicochemical variables), which require expensive and elaborate measuring apparatus. In this study, the reliability of benthic macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of freshwater
streams was carried out. The study also attempted to determine the
discriminating power of various biotic indices in characterizing sites
across land use. Benthic macroinvertebrate samples were obtained from
nine streams in Silago, Southern Leyte and were identified to family
level. One-way analysis of variance was performed on various biotic
indices to assess the water quality of streams based on land use. Average
Tolerance Score per Taxon (ATSPT) was the only biotic index that
differentiated the nine streams based on land use (P<0.001). Forested
sites achieved the lowest ATSPT score, whereas mixed forested-agricultural
sites had the highest ATSPT scores. Physicochemical
variables (e.g., stream width, conductivity, total dissolved solids, water
temperature) and biological metrics (e.g., Simpson’s diversity index, total
macroinvertebrate density) used in the study supported this assessment.
The results show that benthic macroinvertebrates can be used as
potential biomonitoring tool to evaluate the ecological integrity of
waterways in the country. Long-term data sets will be generated from
future sampling efforts for the development of the Philippine Biotic

Keywords: Average Tolerance Score per Taxon (ATSPT), biotic indices,
stream monitoring, physicochemical, Philippines