, Volume 178, Issue 2, pp 165-178

Edibility of fresh and decomposing macrophytes to three species of freshwater invertebrate herbivores

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The edibility of two endemic Australian macrophytes (Ottelia ovalifolia and Triglochin procera) to three species of herbivorous stream invertebrates (Triplectides ciuskus and Notalina fulva: (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae) and Potamopyrgus niger (Gastropods: Hydrobiidae)) was investigated. Each macrophyte species was offered to the test animals in 5 different conditions: fresh, boiled, and three conditions of decomposition. In 5 out of 6 feeding trials, consumption rates of animals were greatest on decomposed tissues. Boiling increased edibility of both plant species to Triplectides larvae and of Triglochin to Notalina larvae. Boiled tissue was consumed least by Potamopyrgus. Analysis of nitrogen, phosphorus, and calorific content of macrophyte tissue and some terrestrial plant materials known to be eaten by the animals suggested that nutritional enrichment of decomposed and boiled tissues was unlikely to explain their greater edibility. Instead, the loss of anti-gustatory compounds is implicated.