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There is a worldwide decline in freshwater biodiversity operating at a faster rate than in any other habitats. Agricultural expansion and urban development have been operating at a very fast pace in China, thus there is a need to understand how freshwater communities respond to the interactions between associated stressors. We conducted a fully crossed 4-factors experiment in 64 flow-through mesocosms (21 days of colonisation, 21 days of manipulations) and investigated the effects of nutrient enrichment, flow velocity reduction and sedimentation on benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Our results indicate that (1) sedimentation and flow velocity reduction are the most pervasive stressors. (2) Changes in population densities are associated with shifts in the functional space. Finally, (3) the temporal scale at which stressors operate can vary. Our study suggests that combined together, changes in community and functional traits offer a good platform to further understand multi-stressor effects on communities and generate further specialised hypotheses.
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