3 years ago

Local Geomorphology as a Determinant of Macrofaunal Production in a Mountain Stream.

J Bruce Wallace, Alexander D Huryn
By comparing distributions of functional group production among different habitats in an Appalachian mountain stream, the influence of site-specific geomorphology upon the overall functional group composition of the animal community was demonstrated. By replicated monthly sampling, substrate particle size distributions, current velocity, standing crops of benthic organic matter, and production of macrofauna were measured in each of three principal habitats: bedrock-outcrop, riffle, and pool. Samples were taken at randomly assigned locations and the relative number of samples taken from each habitat was assumed to be proportional to the area of the habitat within the stream. These proportions were used to weight production measured in each habitat and the resulting values were summed to obtain production per unit area of average stream bed. The bedrock-outcrop habitat was characterized by high material entertainment and export as indicated by significantly higher current velocities and lower standing crops of detritus compared to the riffle and pool habitats. Pools were sites of low entertainment and high retention of organic matter as demonstrated by significantly lower current velocities and higher accumulations of detritus than other habitats. The riffle habitat was intermediate to the bedrock-outcrop and pool habitats in all parameters measured. Annual production of collector-filterers was highest in the bedrock-outcrop (ash-free dry mass 1920 mg/m2 ), followed by riffle (278 mg/m2 ) and pool (32 mg/m2 ). Although constituting only 19% of the stream area, the bedrock-outcrop habitat contributed 68% of the habitat-weighted collector-filterer production. Annual production of shredders was highest in pools (2616 mg/m2 ), followed by riffles (1657 mg/m2 ) and bedrock-outcrop (579 mg/m2 ). The pool habitat, constituting 23% of stream area, contributed 36% of shredder production. Annual production of scrapers was highest in the riffle habitat (905 mg/m2 ), followed by bedrock-outcrop (517-mg/m2 ) and pool (238 mg/m2 ). Riffles constituted 58% of total stream area and were the source of 77% of the habitat-weighted scraper production. Annual production of engulfing predators was greatest in the pool habitat (2313 mg/m2 ), followed by riffles (1765 mg/m2 ) and bedrock-outcrop (687 mg/m2 ). The relatively lower production of engulfing predators in the bedrock-outcrop habitat reflects a functional shift in mode of resource acquisition by predators, with predaceous collector-filterers (Arcto-psychinae: Trichoptera) predominating in the bedrock-outcrop. Collector-gatherer production was more evenly distributed, with the bedrock-outcrop, riffle, and pool habitats each contributing 14, 54, and 33% to the habitat-weighted production, respectively. Unlike all other functional groups, this distribution was not significantly different from the distribution of stream area among habitats and reflected lack of dependence on specific physical attributes of the local environment for access to food by members of this functional group. Local geomorphology determined the diversity and spatial distribution of bedrock-outcrops, riffles, and pools in the study stream. In turn, the functional structure of the macrofauna, when viewed holistically, was the result of the integration of the relative contributions of each habitat type of total stream area. Total habitat-weighted annual production in the study stream was estimated at 5093 and 1921 mg/m2 for primary and secondary consumers, respectively. The distribution of habitat-weighted production among functional groups was: collector-gatherers (39%), followed by shredders (225), engulfing predators (22%), scrapers (13%), and collector-filterers (8%). This functional structure agrees favorably with current conceptual models of head water streams draining forested catchments.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.2307/1939884

DOI: 10.2307/1939884

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