, Volume 124, Issue 1, pp 1-7

Differential physico-chemical tolerances of amphipod species revealed by field transplantations

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Abstract 

Physico-chemical regimes of river systems are major determinants of the distributions and relative abundances of macroinvertebrate taxa. Other factors, however, such as biotic interactions, may co-vary with changes in physico-chemistry and concomitant changes in community composition. Thus, direct cause and effect relationships may not always be established from field surveys. Equally, however, laboratory studies may suffer from lack of realism in extrapolation to the field. Here, we use balanced field transplantation experiments to elucidate the role of physico-chemical regime in determining the generally mutually exclusive distributions of two amphipod taxa, Gammarus (two species) and Crangonyx pseudogracilis. Within two river systems in Ireland, the former species dominate stretches of well oxygenated, high-quality water, whereas the latter dominates stretches of poorly oxygenated, low-quality water. G. pulex and G. duebeni celticus did not survive in bioassay tubes in areas dominated by C. pseudogracilis, which itself survived in tubes in such areas. However, both C. pseudogracilis and Gammarus spp. survived equally well in tubes in areas dominated by Gammarus spp. Physico-chemical regime thus limits the movement of Gammarus spp. into C. pseudogracilis areas, but some other factor excludes C. pseudogracilis from Gammarus spp. areas. Since previous laboratory experiments showed high predation rates of Gammarus spp. on C. pseudogracilis, we propose that predation by the former causes exclusion of the latter. Hence, presumed effects of physico-chemical regime on macroinvertebrate presence/abundance may often require experimental field testing and appreciation of alternative explanations.

Received: 14 June 1999 / Accepted: 20 January 2000