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Aquatic macrophytes, macroinvertebrate associations and water levels in a lowland Tasmanian river

journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-03, 17:20 authored by Paul Humphries
Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre

MDFRC item.

Aquatic macrophytes are a common habitat for macroinvertebrates and may occupy depth zones in the littoral region of lowland rivers. Studies have indicated that different species of macrophyte typically support different assemblages, abundances and numbers of species of macroinvertebrates. This has often been attributed to differences in the dissectedness of stems and leaves of the macrophytes, resulting in differences in the surface area and/or the number of microhabitats available to invertebrates. I set out to measure the abundance and taxonomic richness and to describe the macroinvertebrate assemblages associated with three species of aquatic macrophyte in a pool in the Macquarie River, Tasmania and to examine responses of these variables to changes in water levels over summer. The macrophyte species sampled wereMyriophyllum simulans/variifolium, Triglochin procera} and Eleocharis sphacelata, each one differing in the dissectedness of its stems and leaves and its location in the littoral zone. Whereas the greatest abundance of macroinvertebrates was found associated in all months (i.e. at all water levels) with the structurally complex and shallowest macrophyte species, Myriophyllum, the number of taxa associated with this species was in several cases lower than for the structurally simpler and deeper water Triglochin and Eleocharis. While water depth and total plant biomass of samples were often correlated with invertebrate abundance and richness, these relationships were different for each macrophyte species. Of the nine most common invertebrate taxa collected from all samples, the abundances of more than half showed consistent differences among macrophyte species across months, two showed differences among macrophytes, but with an interaction with month and two showed no differences among macrophytes. There were major differences in the invertebrate assemblages associated with each macrophyte species in any one month, however, there was also a large turnover of taxa associated with the species of macrophytes from one month to the next. Changes in water level and concomitant changes in environmental variables are suggested as factors influencing the invertebrate fauna in the littoral zone of the pool of the Macquarie River. It is thus important for river managers to be aware that species of macroinvertebrates are not evenly distributed across species of macrophyte and that water levels and their influence on macrophytes as invertebrate habitat may play an integral part in determining the abundance, richness and assemblage of invertebrates in rivers.


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Netherlands: Springer.

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arrow migration 2023-03-15 20:45. Ref: f1b71f. IDs:['', 'latrobe:32976']

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