, Volume 568, Issue 1, pp 67-78

Colonisation patterns and vertical movements of stream invertebrates in the interstitial zone: a case study in the Apennines, NW Italy

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We examined vertical migration and colonisation patterns of stream macroinvertebrates within the substratum of an Apennine creek in NW Italy. Macrobenthos was sampled at three depths in the streambed (0–5, 5–10, 10–15 cm) by means of artificial baskets filled with natural substratum. We placed 42 traps (5×5×15 cm), i.e. 21 top-opened (T-traps) and 21 bottom-opened (B-traps), each composed of three overlapping baskets (high-H, medium-M and low-L), to evaluate differences in the vertical movements. We also collected Surber samples to compare interstitial assemblages with streambed communities. The multilevel traps yielded 42 taxa, compared with 60 taxa in the natural riverbed. Interstitial traps were rapidly colonised; both taxa richness and organism number increased during the 42-day study period. We found active migration in both vertical directions, but there were more invertebrates in the top-opened traps than in the bottom-opened traps. In the T-traps the most colonised baskets were those placed at the H level, while in the B-traps the L level baskets were more rapidly colonised. The interstitial assemblages differed markedly from the streambed communities in both composition and functional organisation, with more collector-gatherers and predators in the interstitial zone and more filterers and scrapers in the natural riverbed. In Apennine lotic systems, the interstitial zone is an important habitat for stream macrobenthos, although it may not be used by all species.