Structure and function of benthic invertebrate assemblages of the Đerekarska River (southwestern Serbia, Pešter plateau)




macrozoobenthos, the Đerekarska River, karstic river, functional feeding guilds


Paper description:

  • The macrozoobenthos of watercourses on the Pešter plateau is poorly explored, with only one previous study on aquatic Heteroptera.
  • In 2016, seasonal and longitudinal research of the macrozoobenthic community in the Đerekarska River was conducted, revealing 55 species from 43 genera belonging to 35 families. This study marked the first focused research on macrozoobenthos in this watercourse.
  • Amphipoda dominated the upper course (63.42% average abundance), Ephemeroptera dominated the middle course (34.3% average abundance), and at the sinkhole, Ephemeroptera species dominated (55.12% average abundance).
  • The study provides guidelines for water management planning and categorization of watercourses.

Abstract: This study is focused on benthic invertebrate communities in the Đerekarska River in Serbia, sampled from June to December 2016. We examined how different microhabitats with various substrates influenced the structure and function of the community. Taxonomic analysis revealed 55 species from 43 genera and 35 families, with the most diverse groups being Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera, and Plecoptera. ANOVA showed that different substrate types impacted the functional feeding groups within the assemblages. Cluster formation was primarily influenced by the substrate structure; this was followed by shredders, gatherers and collectors, passive filters, active filter feeders, the river depth, biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, and the flow velocity; for grazers and scrapers, discharge and saturation did not significantly affect cluster formation. Using two-step cluster analysis, we identified three clusters based on the substrate structure. The first group consisted of organisms that prefer a stone substrate; the second group consisted of organisms that prefer a mixed stone/gravel/sand substrate; the third group consisted of organisms that prefer gravel and sand substrates. Each cluster had a dominant functional feeding group, such as shredders and predators in the first cluster, gatherers and collectors in the second cluster, and predators, grazers, and scrapers in the third cluster.


Download data is not yet available.


Merovich G.T, Petty J.T. Continuous response of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages to a discrete disturbance gradient: consequences for diagnosing stressors. J North Am Benthol Soc. 2010;29(4):1241-57.

Heino J, Soininen J. Assembly rules and community models for unicellular organisms: patterns in diatoms of boreal streams. Freshw Biol. 2005;50:567-77.

Griffiths H.I, Kryštufek B, Reed JM. Balkan Biodiversity: Pattern and Process in the European Hotspot. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 2004. 358 p.

Savic IR. Diversification of the Balkan fauna: its origin, historical development and present status. Adv Arachnol Dev Biol.. 2008;12:57-79.

Previsic A, Walton C, Kucinic M, Mitrikeski PT, Kerovec M. Pleistocene divergence of Dinaric Drusus endemics (Trichoptera, Limnephilidae) in multiple microrefugia within the Balkan Peninsula. Mol Ecol. 2009;18(4):634- 47.

Klobucar G.I, Podnar M, Jelic M, Franjevic D, Faller M, Stambuk A, Gottstein S, Simic V, Maguire I. Role of the Dinaric Karst (western Balkans) in shaping the phylogeographic structure of the threatened crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium. Freshw Biol. 2013;58(6):1089-105.

Matonickin I, Pavletic Z. The participation of certain animal and plant groups in the construction of living communities on travertine and erosion waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina. God Biol Inst Sarajevo. 1960;13(1-2):41-62.

Habdija I, Radanovic I, Primc-Habdija B. Longitudinal distribution of predatory benthic macroinvertebrates in a karstic river. Arch Hydrobiol. 1997;139(4):527-46.

Rađa B, Puljas S. Macroinvertebrate diversity in the karst Jadro river (Croatia). Arch Biol Sci. 2008;60(3):437-48.

Płóciennik M, Dmitrovic D, Pesic V, Gadawski P. Ecological patterns of Chironomidae assemblages in Dynaric karst springs. Knowl Manag Aquat Ecosyst. 2016;11(417):1-19.

Savic A, Dmitrovic D, Pesic V. Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera assemblages of karst springs in relation to some environmental factors: a case study in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Turk Zool Derg. 2017;41(1):119-29.

Vilenica M, Stankovic V.M, Sartori M, Kucinic M, Mihaljevic Z. Environmental factors affecting mayfly assemblages in tufa-depositing habitats of the Dinaric Karst. Knowl Manag Aquat Ecosyst. 2017;418:14.

Official Gazette of the RS. Regulation on the proclamation of a special nature reserve "Peštersko polje". Offic Gazette RS. 2015;114:12

Bis B, Zdanowicz A, Zalewski M. Effects of catchment properties on hydrochemistry, habitat complexity and invertebrate community structure in a lowland river. In: Jungwirth M, Muhar S, Schmutz S, editors. Assessing the Ecological Integrity of Running Waters Vol 149, Developments in Hydrobiology. Springer, Dordrecht; 2000. p. 369-87

Menetrey N, Oertli B, Lachavanne JB. The CIEPT: A macroinvertebrate-based multimetric index for assessing the ecological quality of Swiss lowland ponds. Ecol Indic. 2011;11(2):590-600.

Czerniawska-Kusza I. Comparing modified biological monitoring working party score system and several biological indices based on macroinvertebrates for water-quality assessment. Limnologica. 2005;35(3):169-76.

Paunović M. The structure of macroinvertebrate communities as an indicator of the types of flowing waters of Serbia [dissertation] [Belgrade]: Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade;2007. 188 p.

Müller-Liebenau I. Revision der europäischen Arten der Gattung Baetis Leach, 1815 (Insecta, Ephemeroptera). Gewässer und Abwässer, 1969;48/49:1-214.

Brinkhurst R.O, Jamieson BG. Aquatic Oligochaeta of the World. Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Oliver & Boyd; 1971. 860 p.

Rozkošny R. Key for determination of larvae of water insects. Praha: Ceskoslovenska Akademie Ved; 1980.

Edington JM, Hildrew AG. A key to the caseless caddis larvae of the British isles: with notes on their ecology. Ambleside: Freshwater Biological Association; 1981. 91 p.

Nilsson A.N. Aquatic insects of North Europe: a taxonomic handbook. Volume 1: Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Heteroptera, Neuroptera, Megaloptera, Coleoptera, Trichoptera, Lepidoptera. Denmark: Apollo Books; 1996. 274 p.

Waringer J, Graf W. Atlas der österreichischen Köcherfliegenlarven: unter Einschluss der angrenzenden Gebiete. Wien: Facultas Universitätsverlag; 1997. 286 p.

Glöer P, Meier-Brook C, Ostermann O. Süsswassermollusken: ein Bestimmungssschlüssel für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Hamburg, Germany: Deutscher Jugendbuch für Naturbeobachtung; 1998. 136 p.

Soldán T, Landa V. A key to the Central European species of the genus Rhithrogena (Ephemeroptera: Heptageniidae). Klapalekiana. 1999;35:25-37.

Jacob U. Baetis Leach 1815, sensu stricto oder sensu lato. Ein Beitrag zum Gattungskonzept auf der Grundlage von Artengruppen mit Bestimmungsschlüsseln. Lauterbornia. 2003;47:59-129.

Zwick P. Key to the West Palaearctic genera of stoneflies (Plecoptera) in the larval stage. Limnologica. 2004;34(4):315-48.

Lechthaler W, Stockinger W. Trichoptera - Key to larvae from Central Europe (Version CD-Rom-Edition). Vienna: Eutaxa - Technisches Büro für Biologie; 2005.

Bauernfeind E, Soldan T. The Mayflies of Europe (Ephemeroptera). Ollerup, Denmark: Apollo Books; 2012. 781 p.

Muller M, Bouguelia S, Goy R.A, Yoris A, Berlin J, Meche P, Rocher V, Mertens S, Dudal Y. International cross-validation of a BOD5 surrogate. 2014;(23):13642-5.

Drinking Water Standard Methods for Examination of Hygienic Correctness. In: Feliks R, Škunca-Milovanović S, editors. Beograd: Savezni zavod za zdravstvenu zaštitu & NIP Privredni pregled; 1990. p. 134-6. Serbian.

SRPSENISO8467:2007. Water Quality—Determination of CODMn. Belgrade, Serbia: Institute for standardization; 2007.

Cummins K. Rapid bioassessment using functional analysis of running water invertebrates. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the First National Workshop on Biological Criteria, EPA-905/9-89/003. Chicago, USA: US Environmental Protection Agency; 1988.

Kerans B, Karr JR. A benthic index of biotic integrity (B-IBI) for rivers of the Tennessee Valley. Ecol Appl. 1994;4(4):768-85.

Moog O. Fauna Aquatica Austriaca. 2nd ed. A Comprehensive Species Inventory of Austrian Aquatic Organisms with Ecological Notes. Wien, Austria: Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture Forestry Environment and Water Management; 2002. 92 p.

Protić Lj, Živić M. A contribution to the knowledge of aquatic heteropteran Šar planina mts and Pešter plateau (Serbia). Acta Ent Slov. 2013;21(1):65-76.

Vučković I, Božak I, Ivković M, Jelenčić M, Kerovec M, Popijač M, Previšić, A, Širac S, Zrinski I, Kučinić M. Composition and structure of benthic macroinvertebrate communities in the mediterranean karst river the Cetina and its tributary the Ruda, Croatia. Nat Croat. 2009;18(1):49-82.

Marković Z, Miljanović B, Mitrović-Tutundzić V. Macrozoobenthos as an indicator of the Kolubara Reka river water quality. Annual proceedings of the Yugoslav society for water protection. 1999:261-6.

Živić I, Marković Z, Živić M. Influence of a trout farm on macrozoobenthos communities of the Trešnjica River, Serbia. Archives of Biological Sciences. 2009;61(3):483-92. DOI. 10.2298/ABS0903483Z

Bjelanović K, Živić I, Dulić Z, Živić M, Đorđević J, Marinković S, Marković Z. Water quality assessment in the Raška river based on zoobenthos and zooplankton organisms as bioindicators. In: Conference proceedings VI International conference “Water & Fish”. Belgrade, Serbia: Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade. 2013. p. 349-57.

Stojanović K. Uticaj pastrmskih ribnjaka na zajednice makrozoobentosa tekućica sa posebnim osvrtom na larve roda Baetis (Ephemeroptera, Insecta) [dissertation] [Belgrade]: Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade. 2017. 396 p.

Rađa B, Puljas S. Do Karst Rivers "deserve" their own biotic index? A ten years study on macrozoobenthos in Croatia. Int J Speleol. 2010;(2):39:137-47.

Živić I, Ostojić A, Miljanović B, Marković Z. Macroinvertebrates of Serbian streams and their significance as bioindicators in estimation of water quality. In: Petanović R, editor. Proceedings: Ecological and Economic Significance of Fauna of Serbia; 2016 Nov 17; Belgrade, Serbia. Belgrade: SASA; 2018. P. 199-229. (Scientific Meetings; No. 179; Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences; No. 12) Serbian.

Vannote RI, Minshall GW, Cummins KW, Sedell JR, Cushing CE. The river continuum concept. Can J Fish Aquat Sci. 1980;37:130-37.

Willoughby LG, Sutcliffe DW. Experiments on feeding and growth of the amphipod Gammarus pulex (L.) related to its distribution in the River Duddon. Freshw Biol. 1976;6(6):577-86.

Cummins KW, Klug MJ. Feeding Ecology of Stream Invertebrates. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst. 1979;10:147-72.

Wallace JB, Merritt RW. Filter-feeding ecology of aquatic insects. Annu Rev Entomol. 1980;25(1):103-32.

Chambers DB, Messinger T. Benthic invertebrate communities and their responses to selected environmental factors in the Kanawha River basin, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Water-Resources Investigations Report. USGS Publications Warehouse; 2001. 52 p.

Official Gazette of the RS. Regulation on the parameters of ecological and chemical status of surface waters and parameters of chemical status and quantitative status of groundwaters. Official Gazette RS. 2011;74: 29.




How to Cite

Numanović MD, Stojanović KZ, Novaković BB, Živković MM, Živić NV, Miljanović BM. Structure and function of benthic invertebrate assemblages of the Đerekarska River (southwestern Serbia, Pešter plateau). Arch Biol Sci [Internet]. 2023Jul.3 [cited 2024Jun.18];75(2):211-20. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)