Regional coexistence and local dominance in Chaoborus: Species sorting along a predation gradient

  • Garcia E
  • Mittelbach G
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Abstract. Variation in the intensity of pr?dation across the well-known environmental gradient of freshwater habitats from small, ephemeral ponds to large, permanent lakes is a key factor in the development and maintenance of aquatic community structure. Here, we present data on the distribution and abundance of four species of Chaoborus (Diptera: Chaoboridae) across this environmental gradient. Chaoborus show a distinct pattern of species sorting when aquatic systems are divided into fish and fishless environments, and this pattern is consistent with species traits known to influence their vulnerability to fish pr?dation (i.e., pigmentation, diel vertical migration [DVM] behavior, and body size). To test whether fish are the drivers of this pattern, we created a gradient in fish density by stocking bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) into 15 experimental and then allowed ponds in southwestern Michigan, USA, Chaoborus species to colonize. There was clear evidence of species sorting along the pr?dation Chaoborus americanus was most abundant in the fishless ponds, C. flavicans was gradient; neutral in response to fish, and C. punctipennis and C. albatus were most abundant at high fish a response consistent with biomass, their field pattern. Furthermore, prey preference and differences in Chaoborus traits experiments confirm that size selective pr?dation species contribute to the pattern of Chaoborus abundance and distribution. Key words: bluegill sunfish; Chaoborus spp.; Diptera; environmental gradients; Lepomis macrochirus; phantom

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bluegill sunfish
  • Chaoborus spp.
  • Diptera
  • Environmental gradients
  • Lepomis macrochirus
  • Phantom midge
  • Planktivory
  • Species sorting
  • Traits

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  • Erica A. Garcia

  • Gary G. Mittelbach

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