, Volume 651, Issue 1, pp 145–159 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal variation in invertebrate consumer diets in forested and herbaceous wetlands

  • Alani N. Taylor
  • Darold P. Batzer
Primary Research Paper


Macroinvertebrates have important functional roles in wetland ecosystems, but these roles are not always well understood. This study assessed which foods invertebrate consumers assimilate within a set of wetland habitats. During 2006 and 2007, non-Tanypodinae chironomid larvae and select crustaceans (Crangonyx amphipods, Caecidotea isopods, Simocephalus cladocerans) were sampled, along with their potential food sources, from forested and herbaceous areas in wetland habitats (depression, floodplain, swamp complex) across the southeastern U.S.A. Invertebrate and food source samples were processed for carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures. These data were analyzed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s IsoSource mixing model, to estimate the potential relative contributions of different food items and to highlight both important and unlikely food sources. In the forested habitats, litter from trees (leaves, wood, fruit), epiphyton, detrital FPOM (fine particulate organic matter), sediment, and macrophyte litter were found to be major foods for midges and crustaceans, although considerable spatial and temporal variation existed in consumption. In the herbaceous habitats, algae (epiphyton, periphyton, metaphyton, phytoplankton), sediment, and macrophyte litter were important food resources. Comparisons between forested and herbaceous wetlands suggested that algal resources were widely consumed by midges and crustaceans, and that detrital sources were also important in forested wetlands.


Chironomid larvae Crustaceans Invertebrate function IsoSource Stable isotope analysis Wetland food webs 



Help and input from Pete Kalla, Jay Vaun McArthur, Barbara Taylor, Chris Romanek, Seth Newsome, Adrienne DeBiase, Eric Bright, Missy Churchel, Kauaoa Fraiola, and Linda Lee are greatly appreciated. Broughton Caldwell aided with chironomid taxonomy, and this was a treasured learning experience. The work of Tom Maddox and the anonymous lab assistants who ran our isotope samples was invaluable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Department of the InteriorOffice of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM)TulsaUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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