Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 52, Issue 2–3, pp 165–176 | Cite as

Herbivore functional traits and macroinvertebrate food webs have different responses to leaf chemical compounds of two macrophyte species in a tropical lake’s littoral zone

  • Hugo Henrique L. Saulino
  • Ross M. Thompson
  • Susana Trivinho-Strxino


This research addressed the question of whether invertebrate food web structure varied between a native and an invasive macrophyte leaf species in the littoral zone of a tropical reservoir. We compared macroinvertebrate herbivore functional trait diversity composition with food web structure on the two macrophyte leaves, the invasive white ginger lily (Hedichium coronarium—Zingiberaceae) and the native pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata—Pontederiaceae). We predicted that the herbivore macroinvertebrate trait indices would decrease with macrophyte leaf species due to a lower resource quality with the flow-on effects in the food web structure. We calculated the number of functionally singular species (sing.sp) and herbivore functional trait richness (FRic) indices. For the macroinvertebrate food webs, we calculated the total number of trophic links (L), link density (L/S), connectance (C) and predator–prey ratios using a predator–prey matrix. We analysed the relationship between chemical traits of the macrophyte species’ leaves herbivore traits and food web indices using multivariate regression and Pearson’s correlation. Hedichium coronarium leaves had higher biomass and higher nitrogen content than the native P. cordata, which had higher phosphorus and carbohydrate content. Pontederia cordata leaves were associated with specialist macroinvertebrate species which primarily feed on biofilms (e.g. Ulmeritrus and Scirtidae) and plant leaves (e.g. Beardius). Food webs on P. cordata had lower numbers of trophic links (L), links per species (L/S) and predator–prey ratios. Connectance, which represents food web complexity, was similar between macroinvertebrate assemblages on the two leaf types. Our study suggests that chemical compounds of macrophyte leaves quality may have potential flow-on effects on food web structure.


Biological invasions Herbivory Lentic ecosystem Scrapers Shredders 



We would like to thank CNPQ (National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development) for their financial support (process—141020/2013-0). We would also like to thank Marcela B. Cunha-Santino (Universidade Federal de São Carlos) for helping with the chemical analyses of the macrophyte leaves.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia e Recursos Naturais – PPGERNUniversidade Federal de São Carlos – UFSCarSão CarlosBrazil
  2. 2.Institute for Applied Ecology – University of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Laboratório de Ecologia de Insetos Aquáticos, Departamento de HidrobiologiaUniversidade Federal de São Carlos – UFSCarSão CarlosBrazil
  4. 4.AraraquaraBrazil

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