Effects of land-cover transitions on emerging aquatic insects and environmental characteristics of headwater streams in an agricultural catchment

Charles W. Goss, S. Mažeika P. Sullivan, P. Charles Goebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Streams and their adjacent riparian zones are increasingly viewed as interdependent systems linked by reciprocal exchanges of energy, organisms, and materials. We assessed potential associations between the emerging aquatic insect flux and transitions between agricultural land and forest fragments to better understand these stream-riparian linkages in managed landscapes. We sampled stream environmental conditions and emerging insects at 28 sites distributed along three streams flowing through agriculture-forest-agriculture transitions in central Ohio, USA, in the summer of 2012. Ephemeroptera and Trichoptera (ET) taxa had higher flux densities in forests (mean and 95% CI: 0.3 insects m−2 d−1 [0.1, 0.8]) compared to agriculture (mean and 95% CI: 0 insect m−2 d−1 [0, 0.1]; p =.004), and ET taxa were found in 67% of forested sites compared to only 15% of agricultural sites. In contrast, Dolichopodidae were more strongly associated with agricultural land (mean and 95% CI: 0.6 insect m−2 d−1 [0.3 to 1.2]) than forests (mean and 95% CI: 0.1 insects m−2 d−1 [0.1, 0.2]; p =.002). Although Chironomidae were the most numerically abundant, ET taxa were among the larger bodied insects and comprised >30% of the total biomass flux, illustrating the importance of taxonomic traits in mediating flux dynamics. Mechanisms driving emerging insect flux were related to substrate grain-size distribution, channel width, and nutrient concentrations. Overall, our results demonstrate that small forest fragments are strongly related to the aquatic-to-terrestrial insect flux and thus have important implications for terrestrial biodiversity and food webs in agricultural landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1108
Number of pages12
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Volume36
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • agricultural streams
  • biodiversity
  • emerging aquatic insects
  • food webs
  • forest fragments
  • nutrients
  • subsidies

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