, Volume 532, Issue 1–3, pp 111–122 | Cite as

Mass loss and macroinvertebrate colonisation of fish carcasses in riffles and pools of a NW Italian stream

  • Stefano Fenoglio
  • Tiziano Bo
  • Paolo Agosta
  • Marco Cucco


In this study, we analysed the decomposition of trout carcasses in a low-order Apennine stream, with the aim to investigate the mass loss rate in a Mediterranean lotic system, and to examine the influence of microhabitats on the invertebrates colonising fish carcasses. In May 2003, we put 56 dead rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the stream, placing seven sets (four trout each) in both riffle and pool habitats. At four dates, we removed one trout per set to measure its dry mass and determine the associated macroinvertebrate assemblage. Fifty-eight macroinvertebrate taxa colonised the carcasses, with significant differences between the erosive and depositional microhabitats. Riffle trouts hosted richer and denser colonist communities than pool trouts. Chironomidae, Serratella ignita, Habrophlebia sp., Dugesia sp. and Protonemura sp. were the five most abundant taxa. Decomposition was initially very rapid in both environments and then tapered off over time. The mass loss rate was higher (k= −0.057 day−1) than that found in other studies. Higher Mediterranean temperatures probably increase the process. Although we found no significant difference between riffles and pools, mass loss was more regular in erosive habitats, underlining the importance of local, small-scale conditions. In small, low-order, heterotrophic streams, fish carcasses represent an important resource and shelter for rich and diversified invertebrate assemblages.


trout carrion macroinvertebrate colonisation decomposition riffles pools 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Fenoglio
    • 1
  • Tiziano Bo
    • 2
  • Paolo Agosta
    • 1
  • Marco Cucco
    • 1
  1. 1.Di.S.A.V.University of Eastern PiedmontAlessandriaItaly
  2. 2.Alessandria DepartmentA.R.P.A. AlessandriaItaly

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