Regional-Level Inputs of Emergent Aquatic Insects from Water to Land
Emergent aquatic insects can provide inputs to terrestrial ecosystems near lentic and lotic waterbodies, producing ecosystem linkages at the aquatic–terrestrial interface. Although aquatic insect emergence has been examined for individual sites, the magnitude and spatial distribution of this phenomenon has not been examined at regional spatial scales. Here, we characterize this cross-habitat linkage for the state of Wisconsin, USA (169,639 km2). We combined GIS hydrological data with empirical data and predictive models of aquatic insect production to estimate annual aquatic emergence for the state of Wisconsin. Total emergence (lentic + lotic) was estimated to be about 6,800 metric tons of C y−1. Lentic systems comprised 79% of total estimated insect emergence, primarily due to the large amount of lake surface area relative to streams. This is due to both basic ecosystem geometry and the overall abundance of lakes in Wisconsin. Spatial variation was high: insect emergence in southwestern Wisconsin was dominated by streams, whereas for most of the rest of the state insect emergence was dominated by lakes. Lentic inputs to land were highly concentrated (relative to lotic inputs) because lakes have a high ratio of surface area to buffer area. Although less concentrated, the spatial extent of lotic influence was greater: statewide, four times more land area fell within the 100 m buffer zones of streams compared to lakes. Large waterbodies (almost all of which were lakes) were hotspots of insect emergence and input to land. Aquatic insect inputs exceed estimated terrestrial secondary production in 13% of buffer area, and by a factor of 100 or more adjacent to large lakes (>50,000 ha). The model sensitivity analysis showed that the simplifying assumptions and sources of potential error in the input variables had a minor impact on the overall results.
Keywordsaquatic insects emergence lentic lotic lakes streams landscape terrestrial–aquatic linkages food webs Wisconsin
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