Ann. Limnol. - Int. J. Lim.
Volume 48, Number 4, 2012
|Page(s)||371 - 381|
|Published online||30 October 2012|
Downward, upstream or downstream? Assessment of meio- and macrofaunal colonization patterns in a gravel-bed stream using artificial substrates
1 Fondazione Edmund Mach, Research and Innovation Centre, Via E. Mach 1, I-38010 S. Michele all'Adige (TN), Italy
2 Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 11/A, I-43124 Parma, Italy
* Corresponding author. email@example.com
Accepted: 6 August 2012
The aim of this research was to investigate three main movement patterns of meiofauna and macrofauna in the riverbed: (1) vertical (downwards) within the interstitial habitat; (2) downstream (negative rheotaxis); (3) upstream (positive rheotaxis). The study was conducted in two headwater streams in the Northern Apennines (Italy), during summer 2009. Sets of traps opening upwards, upstream and downstream to collect, respectively, organisms moving down into the sediment, and organisms with negative and positive rheotaxis, were placed in each sampling site. Benthic samples were collected as well, to compare the benthic community composition with the assemblages colonizing the traps. Meiofauna was the dominant component, representing 95% in benthos and 85% in traps. Vertical top-opened traps collected more taxonomic groups and more individuals of macro- and meiofauna than the horizontal traps, suggesting a dominance of movements deep within the substrate rather than horizontal patterns. Horizontal traps opening upstream (negative rheotaxis) were colonized by more individuals than the traps opening downstream (positive rheotaxis), demonstrating the great importance of movements directed downstream as a primary source of colonization of new areas. Temporary meiofauna (i.e., insect larvae), which was the dominant component of trap assemblages, displayed predominantly vertical movements, supporting the nursery and refuge function of the hyporheic habitat for taxa which spend only the early larval stages in the hyporheos. The results also stress the importance of including meiofauna in studies characterizing the lotic communities.
Key words: Meiofauna / colonization patterns / artificial substrates / mountain streams / hyporheic habitat
© EDP Sciences, 2012
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