Body Length Determines the Diet and Niche Specialization of Non-Biting Midge Predator (Tanypodinae) Larvae in Shallow Reservoirs
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The functional traits of species respond to environmental gradient changes, which, in turn, are responsible for the niche specialization of species. We analyzed the niche specialization of several Tanypodinae taxa (predatory non-biting midge, 4th instar, n = 693) along the depth zones of the water in six shallow tropical reservoirs. We measured the body length and diet composition of seven Tanypodinae larvae genus. Community-weighted mean (CWM) traits index was utilized to calculate the niche distribution of body length and diet composition. We analyzed the niche distribution of predator larvae, through a simple linear analysis of CWM index and the depth of the water, and by establishing correlations between body length and diet composition. In our study, it was found that the consumption of oligochaete (b = 0.30, SE ± 0.04, t = 7.02, p = 0.0001, R2 = 0.45) and the body length (b = 0.64, SE ± 0.11, t = 5.44, p = 0.0001, R2 = 0.33) increased in deeper zones. We observed a strong and positive relationship between oligochaete consumption and a longer body (r = 0.91, p = 0.0001). We inferred that changes in habitat characteristics, from littoral to deeper zones of the reservoirs, are expected to have influenced the selection of larvae traits predators. We concluded that body length determines the diet consumption and accurately reflects the niche distribution of Tanypodinae assemblages. The functional trait approach proved to be an efficient tool for the analysis of the ecological processes that determine the structure of a non-biting midge predator assemblage.
KeywordsPredator-prey lentic system CWM index functional trait Coelotanypus
We would like to thank Dr. Ângela Terumi Fushita for preparing the map of the study area, and Rebecca Clement, who provided the first English language reviews. We would especially like to thank Dr. Gilmar Perbiche-Neves, as well as all the anonymous referees who contributed with suggestions and comments to improve the paper.
We would like to thank the National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) for the financial support.
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