, Volume 621, Issue 1, pp 49-62
Date: 11 Nov 2008

Aquatic Hemiptera community structure in stormwater retention ponds: a watershed land cover approach

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Abstract

Stormwater ponds are increasingly common aquatic habitats whose biotic communities are largely unexplored. As anthropogenic development continues to alter the landscape, watershed land use is gaining recognition for its potential to predict species compositions in aquatic systems. This study reports species composition of five aquatic hemipteran families (Notonectidae, Corixidae, Belostomatidae, Nepidae, Pleidae) in 28 permanent, artificial stormwater ponds in watersheds with different land covers and associated contaminant input. We hypothesized that land cover variables would be significant drivers of aquatic hemipteran community structure in ponds, and that ponds with a high percentage of agricultural and lawn cover in the watershed would be characterized by the absence of species intolerant of the chemical, physical, and ultimately biotic changes associated with these watersheds. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (NMS) was used to identify dominant gradients of species composition and environmental variables. Pond morphology variables, watershed lawn, watershed agriculture, and predatory fish abundance were each found to have statistically significant correlations with hemipteran community structure. The abundance of Notonecta undulata, the species responsible for creating the largest (ranked) distance in species structure among ponds, was positively correlated with shallow, fishless ponds and independent of land use variables. The abundances of four species of corixids were negatively correlated with watershed agriculture, and hemipteran richness was positively correlated with watershed lawn and negatively correlated with pond surface area. Heirarchical cluster analysis revealed non-random hemipteran species assemblages in which congeneric corixid species tended to co-occur, contradicting traditional niche theory. Since artificial stormwater ponds are chemically different from natural-pond habitat and rapidly increasing in number, knowledge of which insect species are capable of thriving in this environment and their relationship to land use in the watershed is of both environmental and evolutionary interest.

Handling editor: D. Dudgeon