, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Inter- and intra-guild patterns of food resource utilization by chironomid larvae in a subtropical coastal lagoon

  • Aurea Luiza Lemes-SilvaEmail author
  • Paulo Roberto Pagliosa
  • Mauricio Mello Petrucio
Research paper


Studies on food preferences provide background information on the mechanisms that allow coexistence and resource exploitation among several species within the same system. In this study, we aimed to identify the trophic guild of chironomid larvae based on their feeding habits using gut content analysis. Larvae were collected using an Eckman-Birge grab in many areas of the subtropical Peri lagoon (southern Brazil) seasonally between March 2008 and April 2009. Null models were used to determine the frequency of co-occurrence of food items in the diets of chironomid larvae and to determine the frequency of co-occurrence of species belonging to a particular guild. Significant differences (seasonal or annual) were observed in patterns of co-occurrence of food items in the larval diets. Animal remains had a lower co-occurrence than would be expected as a result of chance, and plant items had a co-occurrence greater than would be expected by chance. The c scores for co-occurrence of species belonging to both predator and herbivore guilds revealed a higher co-occurrence of species than would be expected by chance. We suggest that the factors responsible for the results of this study were resource partitioning among species, habitat heterogeneity and resource availability in the environment.


Chironomidae Co-occurrence Feeding habitat Coastal lagoons Subtropical region 



The authors are grateful to Dr. Susana Trivinho-Strixino (UFSCar-SP) for her help with identifying Chironomid larvae, the Brazilian National Council for Research (CNPq), and the Ministry of Education of Brazil (CAPES Foundation) for the financial support and fellowships. We wish to thank the anonymous reviewers whose suggestions greatly improved the manuscript.


  1. Allan DJ, Castillo MM (2007) Stream ecology: structure and function of running waters. Springer, The NetherlandsCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bicudo CEM, Menezes G (2006) Gêneros de algas continentais do Brasil: chave para identificação e descrições. Rima, São CarlosGoogle Scholar
  3. Cartier V, Claret C, Garnier R, Fayolle S, Franquet E (2010) Multi-scale approach to the environmental factors effects on spatio-temporal variability of Chironomus salinarius (Diptera: Chironomidae) in a French coastal lagoon. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 86:637–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chesson P (2000) Mechanisms of maintenance of species diversity. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 31:343–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clarke KR, Gorley RN (2006) PRIMER v6: user manual/tutorial. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  6. Clarke KR, Warwick RM (2001) Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation, 2nd edn. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  7. Coffman WP, Ferrington LC Jr (1996) Chironomidae. In: Merritt RW, Cummins KW (eds) An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, pp 635–744Google Scholar
  8. Cranston PS (1995) Introduction to the Chironomidae. In: Armitage P, Cranston PS, Pinder CV (eds) The Chironomidae: the biology and ecology of non-biting midges. Chapman & Hall, New York, pp 1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cummins KW, Klug MJ (1979) Feeding ecology of stream invertebrates. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 10:147–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dangles O (2002) Functional plasticity of benthic macroinvertebrates: implications for trophic dynamics in acid streams. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 59:1563–1573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferrington LC Jr (2008) Global diversity of non-biting midges (Chironomidae; Insecta-Diptera) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:447–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fesl C (2002) Niche-oriented species-abundances models: different approaches of their application to larval chironomid (Diptera) assemblages in a large river. J Anim Ecol 71:1085–1094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gotelli NJ (2000) Null model analysis of species co-occurrence patterns. Ecology 81:2606–2621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gotelli NJ, Ellison AM (2002) Assembly rules for New England ant assemblages. Oikos 99:591–599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gotelli NJ, Entsminger GL (2006) EcoSim: null models software for ecology. Version 7.0. Acquired Intelligence Inc. & Kesey-Bear, JerichoGoogle Scholar
  16. Gotelli NJ, Graves GR (1996) Null models in ecology. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Gotelli NJ, Rohde K (2002) Co-occurrence of ectoparasites of marine fishes: null model analysis. Ecol Lett 5:86–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heino J (2005) Functional biodiversity of macroinvertebrate assemblages along major ecological gradients of boreal headwater streams. Freshw Biol 50:1578–1587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heino J (2008) Temporally stable abundance–occupancy relationships and occupancy frequency patterns in stream insects. Oecologia 157:337–347PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hennemann MC, Petrucio MM (2011) Spatial and temporal dynamic of trophic relevant parameters in a subtropical coastal lagoon in Brazil. Environ Monit Assess 181:347–361PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Henriques-Oliveira AL, Nessimian JL, Dorvillé LFM (2003) Feeding habits of chironomid larvae (Insecta: Diptera) from a stream in the floresta da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Braz J Biol 63:269–281PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Higuti J, Takeda AM (2002) Spatial and temporal variation of chironomid larval (Diptera) in two lagoons and two tributaries of the upper Paraná River floodplain, Brazil. Braz J Biol 62:807–818PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ingvason HR, Olafsson JS, Gardarsson A (2002) Temporal pattern in resource utilization of Tanytarsus gracilentus larvae (Diptera: Chironomidae). Verh Internat Verein Limnol 28:1041–1045Google Scholar
  24. Kitching RL (2001) Food webs in phytotelmata: “bottom-up” and “top-down” explanations for community structure. Annu Rev Entomol 46:729–760. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.46.1.729 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lamouroux N, Doledec S, Gayraud S (2004) Biological traits of stream macroinvertebrate communities: effect of microhabitat, reach, and basin filters. J N Am Benthol Soc 23:449–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lancaster J, Mole A (1999) Interactive effects of near-bed flow and substratum texture on the microdistribution of lotic macroinvertebrates. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 146:83–100Google Scholar
  27. Lawton JH (1984) Non-competitive populations, non-convergent communities, and vacant niches: the herbivores of bracken. In: Strong Jr DJ, Simberloff D, Abele LG, Thistle AB (eds) Ecological communities: conceptual issues and the evidence. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 67–99Google Scholar
  28. Lepori F, Malmqvist B (2007) Predictable changes in trophic community structure along a spatial disturbance gradient in streams. Freshw Biol 52:2184–2195. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2007.01846.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Merritt RW, Cummins KW (1996). An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, DubuqueGoogle Scholar
  30. Mihuc TB (1997) The functional trophic role of lotic primary consumers: generalist versus specialist strategies. Freshw Biol 37:455–462. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2427.1997.00175.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morin PJ (2005). Community ecology. Blackwell Science, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  32. Nessimian JL, Sanseverino AM, Henriques-Oliveira ALH (1999) Relações tróficas de larvas de Chironomidae (Diptera) e sua importância na rede alimentar em um brejo no litoral do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Rev Bras Entomol 43:47–53Google Scholar
  33. Parsons M, Thoms MC, Norris RH (2004) Using hierarchy to select scales of measurement in multiscale studies of stream macroinvertebrate assemblages. J N Am Benthol Soc 23:157–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pinder, LCV (1995). The habitats of chironomid larvae. In: Armitage PD, Cranston PS, Pinder LCV (eds) The Chironomidae. Biology and ecology of non-biting midges. Chapman & Hall, London, pp 107–135Google Scholar
  35. Roque FO, Trivinho-Strixino S (2001) Benthic macroinvertebrates in mesohabitats of different spatial dimensions in a first order stream (São Carlos—SP). Acta Limnol Brasil 13:69–77Google Scholar
  36. Roque FO, Siqueira T, Trivinho-Strixino S (2005) Occurrence of chironomid larvae living inside fallen-fruits in Atlantic Forest streams. Brasil Entomol Vec 12:275–282Google Scholar
  37. Sanders N, Gotelli NJ, Heller NE, Gordon DM (2003) Community disassembly by an invasive species. Proc Natl Acad Sci 100:2474–2477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sanseverino AM, Nessimian JL (2001) Hábitats de larvas de Chironomidae (Insecta, Diptera) em riachos de Mata Atlântica no Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Acta Limnol Brasil 13:29–38Google Scholar
  39. Sanseverino AM, Nessimian JL (2008) Larvas de Chironomidae (Diptera) em depósitos de folhiço submerso em um riacho de primeira ordem da Mata Atlântica (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil). Rev Bras Entomol 52(1):95–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schmid PE (1993) Random patch dynamics of larval Chironomidae (Diptera) in the bed sediments of a gravel stream. Freshw Biol 30:239–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schmid PE (1997) Stochastic in resource utilization by a larval Chironomidae (Diptera) community in bed sediments of a gravel stream. In: Gilbert J, Matieuh J, Fournier F (eds) Groundwater/surface water ecotones: biological and hydrological interactions and management options. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 21–28Google Scholar
  42. Schmid PE, Schmid-Araya JM (1997) Predation on meiobenthic assemblage: resource use of a tanypod guild (Chironomidae, Diptera) in a gravel stream. Freshw Biol 38:67–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Simberloff D, Dayan T (1991) The guild concept and the structure of ecological communities. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 22:115–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stone L, Roberts A (1990) The checkerboard score and species distributions. Oecologia 85:74–79Google Scholar
  45. Tavares-Cromar AF, Williams DD (1997) Dietary overlap and coexistence of Chironomid larvae in a detritus based stream. Hydrobiologia 354:67–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tokeshi M (1995). Species interactions and community structure. In: Armitage PD, Cranston PS and Pinder LCV (ed) The Chironomidae. Biology and ecology of non-bitting midges., Chapman & Hall, London, pp 297-335Google Scholar
  47. Townsend CR, Hildrew AG (1994) Species traits in relation to a habitat templet for river systems. Freshw Biol 31:265–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Townsend CR, Dolédec S, Scarsbrook MR (1997) Species traits in relation to temporal and spatial heterogeneity in streams: a test of habitat templet theory. Freshw Biol 37:367–387. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2427.1997.00166.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Townsend CR, Begon M, Harper JL (2003) Essentials of ecology. Blackwell Science, MaldenGoogle Scholar
  50. Townsend CR, Begon M, Harper JL (2006) Fundamentos de ecologia. Artmed Editora, Porto AlegreGoogle Scholar
  51. Trivinho-Strixino S, Strixino G (1995) Larvas de Chironomidae (Diptera) do Estado de São Paulo. Guia de Identificação e Diagnose dos gêneros, PPG-ERN, UFSCar, São Carlos/SPGoogle Scholar
  52. Trivinho-Strixino S, Strixino G (1998) Chironomidae (Diptera) associados a troncos de árvores submersos. Rev Bras Entomol 41:173–178Google Scholar
  53. Weiher E, Keddy P (1999) Ecological assembly rules: perspectives, advances and retreats. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zaret TM, Rand AS (1971) Competition in tropical stream fishes: support for the competitive exclusion principle. Ecology 52:336–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurea Luiza Lemes-Silva
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Paulo Roberto Pagliosa
    • 2
  • Mauricio Mello Petrucio
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia de Águas Continentais, Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Centro de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaTrindade, FlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Geociências, Centro de Filosofia e Ciências HumanasUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaTrindade, FlorianópolisBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

Personalised recommendations