The impact of small chironomid grazers on epiphytic algal abundance and dispersion

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Abstract

 A combination of field and laboratory experiments was used to assess the impact of chironomid grazers on taxonomic composition, abundance and dispersion of epiphytic algal assemblages.  In the laboratory, Psectrodadius sp. reduced the biovolume of algal species preferred as food and increased the degree of clumping of non‐preferred species. Thienemanniella cf. fusca had both positive and negative effects (depending on the algal species) on the biovolumes of algal species preferred as food and increased the degree of clumping of non‐preferred species.  In field exclosures, no effect of removal of chironomid larvae from the grazer assemblage could be detected in autumn or winter experiments. A third, longer removal experiment, conducted in summer, resulted in increased biovolumes of edible Cosmarium spp. and Aphanocapsa spp., preferred foods of chironomid larvae. Biovolumes of Lyngbya sp., Eulbochaete spp. and Oedogortium spp., filamentous taxa used extensively in larval case construction, also increased. Chironomid larvae had no effect on total algal biovolume or biovolume of large unicellular algae.  Chironomid larvae can influence epiphytic algal assemblages through selective grazing by reducing the biovolumes of preferred foods and through case‐building activity by reducing the biovolumes of construction materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalFreshwater Biology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science

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