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Patchy bed disturbance and fish predation independently influence the distribution of stream invertebrates and algae
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2011 (English)In: Journal of Animal Ecology, ISSN 0021-8790, E-ISSN 1365-2656, Vol. 80, no 3, 603-14 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

1. The identification of factors determining the patchy distribution of organisms in space and time is a central concern of ecology. Predation and abiotic disturbance are both well-known drivers of this patchiness, but their interplay is still poorly understood, especially for communities dominated by mobile organisms in frequently disturbed ecosystems. 2. We investigated the separate and interactive influences of bed disturbance by floods and predation by fish on the benthic community in a flood-prone stream. Electric fields excluded fish predators from half of 48 stream bed patches (area 0·49 m(2) ) with contrasting disturbance treatments. Three types of bed disturbance were created by either scouring or filling patches to a depth of 15-20 cm or by leaving the patches undisturbed, thus mimicking the mosaic of scour and fill caused by a moderate flood. Benthic invertebrates and algae were sampled repeatedly until 57 days after the disturbance. 3. Disturbance influenced all ten investigated biological response variables, whereas predation affected four variables. Averaged across time, invertebrate taxon richness and total abundance were highest in stable patches. Algal biomass and densities of five of the seven most common invertebrate taxa (most of which were highly mobile) were higher in fill than in scour patches, whereas two taxa were more abundant in scour and stable than in fill patches. Furthermore, two common invertebrate grazers were more abundant and algal biomass tended to be reduced in fish exclusion patches, suggesting a patch-scale trophic cascade from fish to algae. 4. Our results highlight the importance of patchy physical disturbance for the microdistribution of mobile stream organisms and indicate a notable, but less prevalent, influence of fish predation at the patch scale in this frequently disturbed environment. Disturbance and predation treatments interacted only once, suggesting that the observed predation effects were largely independent of local bed disturbance patterns.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 80, no 3, 603-14 p.
Keyword [en]
bed movement, disturbance, fish, patchiness, predation, stream
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43135DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01807.xPubMedID: 21323920OAI: diva2:411656
Available from: 2011-04-19 Created: 2011-04-19 Last updated: 2011-04-19Bibliographically approved

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Diehl, Sebastian
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