The community dynamics of epiphytic midge larvae across the pelagic-littoral interface: Do animals respond to changes in the abiotic environment?

Bradley J. Cardinale, Thomas M. Burton, Valerie J. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In some littoral systems, abiotic heterogeneity results from the edge of vegetation towards the shore as macrophytes gradually impede mixing between pelagic and littoral water. During the summer of 1994, we investigated whether such abiotic heterogeneity influenced epiphytic midge larvae (Diptera:Chironomidae) inhabiting a stand of Scirpus americanus in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. After macrophytes became well established, gradients in six parameters of water quality (turbidity, alkalinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and chloride) formed horizontally from the macrophyte edge towards the shore. In outer portions of the stand where physico-chemical properties were influenced by the influx of pelagic surface waves, chironomid abundance increased to 1076 larvae · stem-1. Diversity (H') in these areas remained constant over the summer with grazing and filter-feeding taxa equally represented. Further into the macrophyte bed where water quality indicated highly reduced mixing, midge abundance never exceeded 27 individuals · stem-1 and larval biomass was reduced 2-4 fold. Loss of filter-feeding taxa resulted in a dramatic decline in diversity in these areas after formation of the abiotic gradients. This study suggests that pelagic-littoral water exchange may result in environmental heterogeneity that directly or indirectly influences epiphytic invertebrate community structure and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2314-2322
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume54
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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