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The lateral extent of the subsidy from an upland stream to riparian lycosid spiders

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Adult aquatic insects emerging from streams can subsidize riparian food webs, but little is known of the spatial extent of these subsidies. Stable isotope (15N) enrichment of aquatic insects, principally a species of stonefly (Plecoptera: Leuctridae), emerging from an upland stream was used to trace the subsidy from the stream ecosystem to riparian spiders (Lycosidae). The downstream profile of spider 15N correlated closely with that of adult stoneflies, indicating that they were deriving nutrition from aquatic sources. The contribution of adult aquatic insects to spider diets was determined using a two-source mixing model. Adult aquatic insects made up over 40% of spider diets adjacent to the stream, but <1% at 20 m from the stream. Enrichment of riparian spiders declined exponentially with distance from the stream channel. Aquatic-terrestrial subsidies were spatially restricted, but locally important, to riparian lycosid spiders at the study site.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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