, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 547-560

Laboratory investigation on community composition, emergence patterns and biomass of wood-inhabiting Chironomidae (Diptera) from a sandy lowland stream in Central Europe (Germany)

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Abstract

Wood-inhabiting chironomid communities were investigated from June 1998 to July 1999 by laboratory rearing of randomly collected submerged branches from a headwater and mid-reach site of a sandy lowland stream, separated by an impoundment used for fishery purposes. Total annual emergence (males and females) from headwater samples was higher (2551 ind m–2 y–1) compared to the mid-reach (1576 ind m–2 y–1), which could be due to disturbances caused by frequent impoundment openings resulting in high discharge events. Chironomid community from branches comprised three subfamilies, with Orthocladiinae (18 species, 2189 ind m–2 y–1) clearly predominating at the headwater (total of 36 species). Mid-reach samples (total of 48 species) showed similar emergent numbers of Orthocladiinae (19 species, 786 ind m–2 y–1) and Chironominae (26 species, 764 ind m–2 y–1). Tanypodinae were caught very rarely in the laboratory emergence (12 ind m–2 y–1 at both sites). Shannon-Wiener diversity index for the mid-reach chironomid community was higher (2.52) than for the headwater community (1.68). Chironomid species composition on woody debris was similar between stream sites, with a Sørensen index of 0.75, but showed different dominance structures indicated by a Wainstein index of 0.26. Total adult biomass (in the manner of dry mass) during the study period was higher for wood-dwelling chironomids from the headwater (158.2 mg m–2 y–1) compared to the mid-reach (123.8 mg m–2 y–1), but individual biomass was higher for mid-reach chironomids (0.079 mg ind–1 vs. 0.062 mg ind–1 at the headwater), indicating the predominance of larger species. Total biomass of wood-inhabiting chironomids in the investigated lowland stream was low compared to other field emergence studies, which could be attributed to the laboratory approach for investigating the emergence from a single substrate type (submerged wood) instead of the integrative field surveys where chironomids from all habitats were caught. Main reason for the lack of chironomid species closely associated to wood in this sandy lowland stream could be infrequent but episodic disurbances caused by the anthropogenic induced highly fluctuating discharge regime of the downstream study site.