, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 315-321

Resource-mediated effects of stream pollution on food absorption of Asellus aquaticus (L.) populations

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Abstract

The role of interactions between chemical perturbations and biological constraints on detritivores occurring in polluted streams were investigated by analysing food absorption variation with stress. Absorption rate and efficiency of four Asellus aquaticus (L.) populations from differently polluted habitats were quantified with respect to the microbial guilds colonizing detritus. A twin tracer method was used. Detritus was microbially colonized in standard conditions and on each stream bottom to control for potential resource-independent variations among individuals. The relationship between length and weight was also determined on a random sample of individuals of each population. Differences of 14.6% in potential absorption efficiency and 11.3% in potential absorption rate were observed between populations from the least and the most polluted habitat. Actual (“realized”) variations were much stronger: from a minimum of a 60.1% reduction in absorption efficiency to a maximum of 93.8% for the rate. The realized food absorption and the individual weight per length showed the same pattern of variation among populations. This suggested that the availability of energy to isopods in nature was related to stream pollution and resource quality. Bottomup interactions appear to be the most relevant pathway through which chemical water pollution affects the Asellus populations studied. The potential resource-independent variations among individuals are also likely to be explained by temporal cascading of resource-mediated effects.