, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 48-56

Predation and drift of lotic macroinvertebrates during colonization

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Summary

A field experiment was carried out to determine the effect of an invertebrate predator on the colonization and drift of benthic macroinvertebrates in experimental stream channels. Lotic invertebrates colonized four replicate channels: two controls with no predators, and two channels with low densities (2.8 m−2) of predatory stonefly nymphs, Doroneuria baumanni (Perlidae). Immigration rates were measured at the inflow of two other channels. Drift rates of invertebrates immigrating to and emigrating from channels were measured daily, and benthic samples were collected every five days. Over a 25-day colonization period, benthic densities of Baetis nymphs and larval Chironomidae were reduced by D. baumanni. Colonization curves were fit with a power function and significantly different colonization rates were indicated for both Baetis and chironomids in predation and control channels. A predator-induced drift response was exhibited by Baetis only and this response was size-dependent. In the presence of D. baumanni, large Baetis drifted more frequently than small nymphs and, correspondingly, small nymphs were more frequent in the benthos. Net predator impacts on invertebrate densities in channel substrates were partitioned into predator-induced drift and prey consumption. These estimates suggest that predator avoidance by Baetis is a prominent mechanism causing density reductions in the presence of predators. Reductions in the density of Chironomidae, however, were attributed to prey consumption only. A rainstorm during the experiment demonstrated that stream flow disruptions can override the influence of predators on benthic invertebrates, at least temporarily, and re-set benthic densities.