Grazer-periphyton interactions were investigated in 11 laboratory streams holding a range of densities of three herbivore taxa during a 32-d experiment. Effects of grazers on algae were strongest with Dicosmoecus gilvipes caddisflies, intermediate with Juga silicula snails, and weakest with Baetis spp. mayflies. Algal standing crop, export, and gross primary production declined logarithmically with increasing grazer density. Algal turnover rate, however, increased with grazer abundance. At high densities of all grazers, responses in most algal parameters converged, suggesting that high grazing pressure, regardless of taxon, will similarly affect periphyton. Growth of both Dicosmoecus caddisflies and Juga snails was density-dependent, with the highest growth rates occurring at the lowest densities. Caddisflies displayed high growth rates but low efficiency in resource use. Snails had lower growth rates but were more efficient in resource use. The coexistence of Dicosmoecus and Juga, or other competing herbivores, in natural streams may be related to these fundamental differences in life history strategies.
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