, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 147-155

Effects of leaf litter species on macroinvertebrate community properties and mosquito yield in Neotropical tree hole microcosms

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Abstract

Detritus quality and quantity affect macroinvertebrate productivity and distribution in many freshwater ecosystems. This study experimentally investigated the effects of leaf litter from Ceiba pentandra, Dipteryx panamensis, Ficus yoponensis, and Platypodium elegans on macroinvertebrate species composition, richness, and abundance in artificial water-filled tree holes in a lowland moist forest of Panama. Species composition was similar among treatments, but species richness and longevity differed among litter types and were consistently highest with Platypodium litter. Similar patterns were observed in natural tree holes of the focal tree species. The mosquito Culex mollis was the most abundant species in the field experiment. Average conductivity and dissolved oxygen concentration differed among leaf species, but pH did not. Leaf toughness was positively correlated with mean macroinvertebrate abundance and cumulative species richness. A laboratory experiment measured C. mollis yield and pupation time in tree hole microcosms containing the four litter species. Cumulative mosquito mass and time to pupation differed among leaf litter species, with Platypodium litter supporting the greatest yield. Pupation was slowest on Ceiba litter. Grazing by mosquito larvae facilitated leaf decomposition in all treatments. Results suggest that differences in macroinvertebrate species richness and mosquito yield can be attributed to differences in nutritional quality among litter species.

Received: 14 October 1998 / Accepted: 21 February 1999