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Predation by Enallagma nymphs (Odonata, Zygoptera) under different conditions of spatial heterogeneity


Macrophyte beds of the lake littoral host a diverse community of macroinvertebrates, from primary consumers to top predators. Different macrophyte species often support different macroinvertebrate communities. Complex leaf morphologies (plants with finely dissected leaves) usually support richer and/or more diverse invertebrate assemblages, probably because of the larger availability of microhabitats and refuges (spatial heterogeneity)that allow for coexistence of otherwise mutually exclusive species.

Odonate nymphs are sometimes associated with complex leaf macrophytes. Because of their wide prey spectrum, colonization of spatially heterogeneous macrophyte habitats may be due to a higher predation success in such a habitat rather than to the presence of particular prey species.

Odonate (Enallagma sp.) nymph predation success was tested under conditions of high (complex leaf Ceratophyllum demersum L. leaf packs) and low (simple leaf Potamogeton illinoensis Morong leaf packs) spatial heterogeneity. Prey species included two pulmonate gastropods, an amphipod, and a turbellarian that were common in the natural habitat of Enallagma. Enallagma significantly reduced the amphipod and the turbellarian populations and the prey assemblage as a whole, but did not have any statistically significant impact on the snail populations, which increased their absolute and relative abundance in the presence of the odonate. Numerical losses by Enallagma predation (if any) were not related to macrophyte architecture, suggesting that prey vulnerability to Enallagma predation is species specific rather than habitat-determined. Enallagma's preferential distribution in spatially heterogeneous macrophyte habitats, when occurring, may be due to other factors such as a refuge from fish predation and/or a generally greater prey availability and diversity in complex leaf than in simple leaf macrophyte habitats.

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Lombardo, P. Predation by Enallagma nymphs (Odonata, Zygoptera) under different conditions of spatial heterogeneity. Hydrobiologia 356, 1–9 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1003038717605

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  • macroinvertebrates
  • Enallagma
  • predation
  • spatialheterogeneity
  • macrophytes
  • plant anatomy