Changes in macroinvertebrate community structure and function along a
Source: Hydrobiologia, Volume 529, Number 1, November 2004 , pp. 113-132(20)
Abstract:Aquatic macroinvertebrate communities were sampled between 1994 and 1996 at 13 sites downstream of phosphorus (P)-enriched canal inflows in a northern Everglades marsh to determine the effects of nutrient enrichment on community structure and function. Sampling was performed using sweep nets and HesterDendy (HD) samplers. Data were analyzed to assess changes in taxa richness and diversity, species composition, and functional group composition along the gradient. Environmental conditions at each site were characterized to interpret spatial changes in these metrics. Mean water-column total P (TP) increased from 10g lminus;1at sites in the marsh interior to as high as 160 g lminus;1at sites closest to the canal. Vegetation and habitat composition changed dramatically along the gradient, with sawgrass and slough-wet prairie habitats accounting for most vegetative cover in the interior and cattail accounting for nearly 100%of the cover near the canal. These differences in TP concentrations and vegetation were used to classify sites as reference, enriched, and highly enriched. Daytime dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations averaged 3mg lminus;1at reference sites as compared with concentrations 2mg lminus;1at enriched and highly enriched sites. Total macroinvertebrate densities were significantly higher in sweep samples and significantly lower in HD samples from highly enriched sites as compared with the reference condition. Taxa richness and diversity in sweep samples did not change significantly along the gradient, but declined with enrichment on the HD samplers. Insects were the dominant organisms at all sites, but declined in percent abundance with enrichment in sweep samples due to decreases in dipterans, trichopterans and odonates and an increase in oligochaetes. Changes in major invertebrate classes were less pronounced on HD samplers, although amphipods showed significant declines with enrichment. Principal components analysis revealed a clear distinction in taxonomic composition between reference sites and both enriched and highly enriched sites for sweep samples as common chironomid taxa at reference sites declined with enrichment while pollution-tolerant chironomid and oligochaete taxa increased. A similar, but less dramatic trend was found for HD samples, with selected amphipod, chironomid, and gastropod taxa declining with enrichment and pollution-tolerant taxa reaching peak abundance at enriched sites. The functional composition in sweep samples showed modest changes with enrichment, including a shift in dominance from epibenthic collectorgatherers/deposit feeders, which were predominantly chironomids, to subsurface taxa, which were predominantly oligochaetes. Shifts in invertebrate functional composition on HD samplers with enrichment were attributable to declines in the dominance of shredders and collector-filterer/suspension-feeders. Portions of the Everglades exposed to P-enriched runoff are showing characteristic shifts in macroinvertebrate taxonomic composition related to eutrophication. This shift has occurred without a change in species diversity and with an increase in total invertebrate abundance indicative of an overall increase in marsh productivity. The transition from an oligotrophic to eutrophic community signals a decline in the biological integrity of the Everglades ecosystem in response to P enrichment.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: 1: Everglades Department, South Florida Water Management District, Gun Club Road West Palm Beach, USA 2: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Department, South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road, FL, USA
Publication date: 2004-11-01