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Title: Influence of fishes on macroinvertebrate communities and insect emergence production in intermittent stream refuges

Drying intermittent stream networks often have permanent water refuges that are important for recolonisation. These habitats may be hotspots for interactions between fishes and invertebrates as they become isolated, but densities and diversity of fishes in these refuges can be highly variable across time and space.

Insect emergence from streams provides energy and nutrient subsidies to riparian habitats. The magnitude of such subsidies may be influenced by in‐stream predators such as fishes.

We examined whether benthic macroinvertebrate communities, emerging adult insects, and algal biomass in permanent grassland stream pools differed among sites with naturally varying densities of fishes. We also manipulated fish densities in a mesocosm experiment to address how fishes might affect colonisation during recovery from hydrologic disturbance.

Fish biomass had a negative impact on invertebrate abundance, but not biomass or taxa richness, in natural pools. Total fish biomass was not correlated with total insect emergence in natural pools, but orangethroat darter (Etheostoma spectabile) biomass was inversely correlated with emerging Chironomidae biomass and individual midge body size. The interaction in our models between predatory fish biomass and date suggested that fishes may also delay insect emergence from natural pools, altering the timing of aquatic–terrestrial subsidies.

There was an increase over time in algal biomass (chlorophyll‐a) in mesocosms, but this did not differ among fish density treatments. Regardless, fish presence in mesocosms reduced the abundance of colonising insects and total invertebrate biomass. Mesocosm invertebrate communities in treatments without fishes were characterised by more Chironomidae, Culicidae, and Corduliidae.

Results suggest that fishes influence invertebrates in habitats that represent important refuges during hydrologic disturbance, hot spots for subsidy exports to riparian food webs, and source areas for colonists during recovery from hydrologic disturbance. Fish effects in these systems include decreasing invertebrate abundance, shifting community structure, and altering patterns of invertebrate emergence and colonisation.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Freshwater Biology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1412-1428
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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