Food webs in tropical Australian streams: Shredders are not scarce

  • Cheshire K
  • Boyero L
  • Pearson R
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1. Macroinvertebrates were collected in dry and wet seasons from riffles and pools in two streams in tropical north Queensland. Total biomass, abundance and species richness were higher in riffles than in pools but did not differ between streams or seasons. 2. Gut contents of all species were identified. Cluster analysis based on gut contents identified five dietary groups: I, generalist collectors; II, generalist shredders and generalist predators; III, generalist scrapers; IV, specialist shredders; and V, specialist predators. Species were allocated to functional feeding groups (FFGs) based on these dietary groups. 3. Many species were generalist in their diets, but specialist predators and shredders were particularly prominent components of the invertebrate assemblages in terms of biomass and species richness. 4. Community composition (proportions of biomass, abundance and species richness of the different FFGs) varied between habitat types, but not between streams or seasons, although differences between riffles and pools varied with season. 5. Comparison of the fauna of 20 streams showed that our study sites were similar to, or not atypical of, low-order streams in the Queensland wet tropics.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Functional feeding groups
  • Gut content analysis
  • Latitude
  • Macroinvertebrates

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