Contrasting effects of cross-ecosystem subsidies and predation on benthic invertebrates in two Pacific coastal streams

  • Zhang Y
  • Richardson J
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Cross-ecosystem subsidies, such as terrestrial invertebrates and leaf litter falling into water as resources for aquatic communities, can vary across environmental gradients. We examined whether the effect of terrestrial subsidy inputs on benthic invertebrates was mediated by resident coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) in two representative streams. We experimentally manipulated the input rates (reduced, ambient) of terrestrial subsidies (terrestrial invertebrates and leaf litter) as well as the presence or absence of cutthroat trout in the two streams. The hypothesis that the reduction of terrestrial subsidies to the stream influences benthic invertebrate assemblages was supported by experimental results. The treatments of terrestrial subsidy reduction and cutthroat trout presence had a significant negative effect on benthic invertebrate community biomass and shredder biomass in East Creek with high natural terrestrial subsidy input and small amount of large wood in channel. In contrast, results from Spring Creek with low subsidy input and large amount of large wood in channel showed that only the terrestrial subsidy reduction significantly reduced the biomass of shredders. The effects of the terrestrial subsidy input and trout predation on benthic invertebrate communities varied between the two streams. Our results indicate that a subsidy effect on benthic communities can vary between nearby streams differing in canopy and habitats. This study, with the major finding of highly context-dependent effects of spatial subsidies, suggests that the interplay of resource subsidies and predators on invertebrate community assemblages can be site-specific and context-dependent on habitat features.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Benthic invertebrates
  • Cutthroat trout
  • Riparian forests
  • Terrestrial subsidy
  • Trophic flow

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  • Yixin Zhang

  • John S. Richardson

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