Many aspects of the colonization history of a disturbed site can influence the development of a biological community. Initial colonization is known to play a significant role in community development because of the facilitative or inhibitory effects that 'pioneer' species can have on subsequently arriving taxa. We performed an experiment to assess how initial colonization by two species of benthic invertebrates (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) might influence the development of stream faunal assemblages. Substrate baskets initially colonized by either Hydropsyche depravata or Ceratopsyche bronta were placed alongside control baskets in a recently flooded stream. After baskets had colonized for 30 days, we found that species composition in treatment baskets was identical to that in control baskets, indicating that the caddisfly taxa had no selective effects on colonization of other macroinvertebrate species. We did, however, find that C. bronta facilitated the recruitment of all species in the colonist pool leading to greater overall abundance and biomass of macroinvertebrates in the final assemblages. In contrast, H. depravata had no effect on the abundance or biomass of colonizing invertebrates. The differential effects of these two taxa on abundance and biomass may have been related to differences in microhabitat complexity created by the construction of their retreats and catchnets. The results of this study support the growing recognition that colonization history does influence the structure of lotic communities, but they also suggest that even closely related taxa can play different roles as initial colonists in community development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science