Ecological Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 619–628 | Cite as

Linking stream habitats and spider distribution: spatial variations in trophic transfer across a forest–stream boundary

  • Tomoya IwataEmail author
Original Article


In headwater streams, many aquatic insects rely on terrestrial detritus, while their emergence from streams often subsidizes riparian generalist predators. However, spatial variations in such reciprocal trophic linkages remain poorly understood. The present study, conducted in a northern Japanese stream and the surrounding forest, showed that pool–riffle structure brought about heterogeneous distributions of detritus deposits and benthic aquatic insects. The resulting variations in aquatic insect emergence influenced the distributions of riparian web-building spiders. Pools with slow current stored greater amounts of detritus than riffles, allowing more benthic aquatic insects to develop in pools. The greater larval biomass in pools and greater tendency for riffle insects to drift into pools at metamorphosis resulted in an emergence rate of aquatic insects from pools that was some four to five times greater than from riffles. In the riparian forest, web-building spiders (Tetragnathidae and Linyphiidae) were distributed in accordance with the emergence rates of aquatic insects, upon which both spider groups heavily depended. Consequently, the riparian strips bordering pools had a density of tetragnathid spiders that was twice as high as that of the riparian strips adjacent to riffles. Moreover, although limitations of vegetation structure prevented the aggregation of linyphiid spiders around pools, linyphiid density normalized by shrub density was higher in habitats adjacent to pools than those adjacent to riffles. The results indicated that stream geomorphology, which affects the storage of terrestrial organic material and the export of such material to riparian forests via aquatic insect emergence, plays a role in determining the strength of terrestrial–aquatic linkages in headwater ecosystems.


Aquatic insects Pool–riffle sequence Reciprocal subsidies Riparian spiders Terrestrial detritus 



I would like to thank Jotaro Urabe for valuable comments on the manuscript, and also express my sincere thanks to Tadashi Ishii, Hitomi Asano, Keiko Ono and Chika Kato for their support during the study. I am indebted to Tsutomu Hiura, Masashi Murakami, Eitaro Wada, Naotoshi Kuhara and the staff and students of the Tomakomai Experimental Forests and Center for Ecological Research for their assistance. I dedicate this paper to my mentor, Dr. Shigeru Nakano, who was lost in a tragic boat accident in the Sea of Cortez in March 2000. This work could not be accomplished without his warm support and encouragement. This research was supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sport and Culture (Grant nos. 09NP1501 and 11440224).


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecosocial System EngineeringUniversity of YamanashiKofuJapan

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