Food chain length and trophic niche of a key predator in montane desert streams
Top predator foraging strategy and prey base community composition can influence food web structure and function. To investigate the role of functional trait diversity and taxonomic richness in determining food chain length and energy flow in high elevation desert streams, we examined aquatic invertebrate community data along with carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis of a top predator, Abedus herberti (giant water bug). We also examined isotopic niche differences across different levels of population structure and seasons. We hypothesized that communities with higher richness would have longer food chains. We found food chain length did not vary substantially across a wide taxonomic and functional richness gradient, which contradicts theoretical mechanisms stating that more resources or higher functional diversity should lead to longer food chains. The isotopic niche of A. herberti was conserved across seasons and sites, and the majority of carbon in tissues came from allochthonous materials. Stable isotopes suggested that A. herberti occupy similar feeding niches in spring and autumn, despite seasonal changes in stream conditions, leaf litter inputs, and invertebrate community structure. Due to the strong aquatic–terrestrial linkages we identified, human activities and climate-driven alterations to the adjacent terrestrial environment may affect the dynamics and integrity of the within-stream ecosystem.
KeywordsAridland Biodiversity Functional richness Invertebrates tRophicPosition Spatial subsidies Top predator
We thank Emily Hartfield Kirk and Haley Ohms for their help in the field collecting insects. We appreciate The Nature Conservancy for granting access to and lodging at the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, Arizona. Organisms were collected under permit at Fort Huachuca authorized by Sheridan Stone. The comments of anonymous reviewers helped to improve the paper. The US Department of Defense (SERDP RC-2203, RC-2511) provided funding to DAL.
- Batschelet, E., 1981. Circular Statistics in Biology. Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
- Bunn, S. E., S. R. Balcombe, P. M. Davies, C. S. Fellows & F. J. McKenzie-Smith, 2006. Aquatic Productivity and Food Webs of Desert River Ecosystems Ecology of Desert Rivers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Cushing, C. E. & J. D. Allan, 2001. Streams: Their Ecology and Life. Gulf Professional Publishing, Oxford.Google Scholar
- Jackson, A. & A. Parnell, 2015. Stable Isotope Bayesian Ellipses in R.Google Scholar
- Jardine, T. D., K. A. Kidd, J. T. Polhemus & R. A. Cunjak, 2008. An elemental and stable isotope assessment of water strider feeding ecology and lipid dynamics: synthesis of laboratory and field studies. Freshwater Biology 53: 2192–2205.Google Scholar
- Laliberté, E. & B. Shipley, 2011. FD: Measuring Functional Diversity (FD) from Multiple Traits, and Other Tools for Functional Ecology. http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/FD/index.html.
- Merritt, R. W. & K. W. Cummins, 1996. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America. Kendal/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque.Google Scholar
- Moody, E. K., Y. Astudillo-Scalia, A. La Porte, C. Swanson & J. R. Corman, 2018. Consumption of animal carcasses by the putative leaf shredder Phylloicus mexicanus (Trichoptera: Calamoceratidae). The Southwestern Naturalist 63: 76–80.Google Scholar
- Moore, J. C., E. L. Berlow, D. C. Coleman, P. C. de Ruiter, Q. Dong, A. Hastings, N. C. Johnson, K. S. McCann, K. Melville, P. J. Morin, K. Nadelhoffer, A. D. Rosemond, D. M. Post, J. L. Sabo, K. M. Scow, M. J. Vanni & D. H. Wall, 2004. Detritus, trophic dynamics and biodiversity. Ecology Letters 7: 584–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Parnell, A., 2016. simmr: A Stable Isotope Mixing Model. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=simmr.
- R Core Team, 2013. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/.
- Shannon, C. E. & W. Weaver, 1963. The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.Google Scholar
- Sokołowski, A., M. Wołowicz, H. Asmus, R. Asmus, A. Carlier, Z. Gasiunaité, A. Grémare, H. Hummel, J. Lesutiené, A. Razinkovas, P. E. Renaud, P. Richard & M. Kędra, 2012. Is benthic food web structure related to diversity of marine macrobenthic communities? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 108: 76–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Open AccessSpringer Nature terms of reuse for archived author accepted manuscripts (AAMs) of subscription articles For articles published within the Springer Nature group of companies that have been archived into academic repositories such as institutional repositories, PubMed Central and its mirror sites, where a Springer Nature company holds copyright, or an exclusive license to publish, users may view, print, copy, download and text and data-mine the content, for the purposes of academic research, subject always to the full conditions of use. The conditions of use are not intended to override, should any national law grant further rights to any user.Conditions of use Articles, books and chapters published within the Springer Nature group of companies which are made available through academic repositories remain subject to copyright. The following restrictions on use of such articles, books and chapters apply: Academic research only 1. Archived content may only be used for academic research. Any content downloaded for text based experiments should be destroyed when the experiment is complete. Reuse must not be for Commercial Purposes 2. Archived content may not be used for purposes that are intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation by means of sale, resale, licence, loan, transfer or any other form of commercial exploitation ("Commercial Purposes"). Wholesale re-publishing is prohibited 3. Archived content may not be published verbatim in whole or in part, whether or not this is done for Commercial Purposes, either in print or online. 4. This restriction does not apply to reproducing normal quotations with an appropriate citation. In the case of text-mining, individual words, concepts and quotes up to 100 words per matching sentence may be used, whereas longer paragraphs of text and images cannot (without specific permission from Springer Nature). Moral rights 5. All use must be fully attributed. Attribution must take the form of a link - using the article DOI - to the published article on the journal's website. 6. All use must ensure that the authors' moral right to the integrity of their work is not compromised. Third party content 7. Where content in the document is identified as belonging to a third party, it is the obligation of the user to ensure that any use complies with copyright policies of the owner. Reuse at own risk 8. Any use of Springer Nature content is at your own risk and Springer Nature accepts no liability arising from such use.