, Volume 128, Issue 1, pp 45-56

Influences of aquatic macrophytes on invertebrate community structure, guild structure, and microdistribution in streams

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The aquatic macrophytes Ranunculus aquatilis and Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum were transplanted into substrate trays and placed in a stream alongside unvegetated substrate. Macrophytes were observed to have significant effects on 1) invertebrate community structure, 2) guild structure, and 3) microdistribution. 1) Significantly higher taxa richness and community abundances were associated with macrophytes. 2) Significantly higher abundances of shredder, scraper, and predator guilds were associated with macrophytes in fall, and all guilds had higher abundances in macrophytes in spring. However, guild frequency distributions did not differ among habitats except in spring. 3) Enallagma, Gammarus, Gyraulus, Physa, and Pisidium exhibited a strong association with macrophytes, while Hydropsyche, Simulium, Baetis tricaudatus, Glossosoma velona, and Helicopsyche borealis appeared to avoid them. A strong correlation appeared to exist between current velocity preferences of these taxa and their selection or avoidance of vegetated habitat. Thus, the effect of macrophytes in reducing current velocities appeared to be the most important influence on invertebrate microdistribution. However, macrophytes also increase physical heterogeneity and their large surface areas benefit invertebrate community abundances by creating additional living spaces in the water column where none exist above unvegetated substrate.