, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 109-115

Species aggregation: the influence of detritus in a benthic invertebrate community

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Abstract

Species aggregation with detritus was examined in a zoobenthic stream community. Detritus was quantified (dry weight in particle size categories) in contiguously arranged quadrats along four transects within a 40m stream section. Total organism density was found to be positively related to increasing detrital biomass (dry weight) in all transects, although the magnitude of this association was influenced by the detrital particle size distribution in each quadrat. Eliminating certain particle size categories of detritus resulted in substantial changes in the magnitude of association. For example, in one transect, total organism density and total detrital biomass showed no association. However, when one particle size category (greater than 10 mm) was removed a highly significant relationship was found. Total detrital biomass was found to be a useful predictor of organism distribution, however, inordinately high detrital biomass and variance within larger particle size categories can mask a relationship. This result suggests that the use of discrete size categories is necessary when considering species/ detrital relationships.

Significant associations were found between the density of particular species and total biomass of detritus. The magnitude, as well as significance, of these associations were found to vary when correlations were calculated with restricted particle size categories of detritus. Species associations were often not consistent between transects, possibly due to local characteristics of detritus or overriding environmental factors. Current velocity was found to be unimportant in determining the detrital biomass held in the substrate. Likewise, few associations were found between current velocity and organism density in three out of four transects. Results of this study suggest that habitat selection by some taxa is influenced by local variation in detrital biomass, as well as detrital particle size composition.