Most functional feeding types are represented within the species rich group of aquatic chironomids. Thus, we hypothesized that different lake types and microhabitats within lakes would (1) host specific chironomid communities and (2) that the individual communities would show specific δ 13C stable isotope signatures reflecting the prevailing origin of food source. To test our hypotheses, five lakes in southwest Greenland were investigated at a high taxonomic resolution and with detailed information on δ 13C signature of the chironomids and of individual microhabitats (macrophytes, sediment, stones, and profundal). We found that there was a significant difference in δ 13C between the chironomid assemblages of freshwater lakes and oligosaline lakes, while assemblages of the littoral microhabitats did not differ significantly. The δ 13C of chironomids reflected the wide variety of habitat signals, particularly in the freshwater lakes. Our results indicate that many chironomid taxa are ubiquitous and are found in several microhabitats, suggesting that they can adjust their feeding strategy according to the habitat. The implication is that chironomid assemblage composition has only limited use as indicator of littoral microhabitats in the Arctic. On the other hand, the δ 13C signature of fossil chironomids might have a potential as indicator of microhabitats in freshwater lakes.
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This work was supported by a STENO-Grant from The Danish Council for Independent Research—Natural Sciences to N. S. Reuss. We also thank the Danish National Research Foundation for supporting the activities within the Center for Permafrost (CENPERM DNRF100). We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers whose comments to a previous version considerably improved the paper.
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Reuss, N.S., Hamerlík, L., Velle, G. et al. Microhabitat influence on chironomid community structure and stable isotope signatures in West Greenland lakes. Hydrobiologia 730, 59–77 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-014-1821-9