SREL Reprint #1970

 

 

 

 

The relative importance of refugia in determining the drift and habitat selection of predaceous stoneflies in a sandy-bottomed stream

Russell B. Rader - J.V. McArthur

Abstract Patch structure in sandy, compared to rocky streams, is characterized by isolated snags that can only be colonized by drifting. By measuring drift from patches (snags) of various quality we determined the factors that influence habitat selection and drift of the predaceous stoneflies Acroneuria abnormis and Paragnetina fitosa. The presence of refugia (loose bark and leaf packs) was more important than hunger level and modified the effects of increased predator densities and aggressive interactions. Stoneflies concentrated to 8x natural densities with access to refugia remained longer on snags than a single stonefly without access to refugia. During periods of activity, refugia were defended with larger stoneflies always displacing smaller nymphs. During long periods of inactivity, two and sometimes three nymphs would rest side-by-side sharing the same refuge. Hunger level (starved versus satiated stoneflies), an indirect measure of a predator's response to prey availability, had no significant effect on drift or habitat selection regardless of the presence of refugia. Stonefly predators had a uniform distribution while their prey were clumped. Drift was deliberate and almost always delayed until night, usually at dusk or dawn. An examination of previous research plus the results of this study suggest that non-predatory intra- and interspecific interactions can be an important mechanism causing drift in streams.

Key words Stonefly dispersion - Drift and habitat selection - Refugia - Aggressive interference - Hunger

SREL Reprint #1970

Rader, R.B. and J.V. McArthur. 1995. The relative importance of refugia in determining the drift and habitat selection of predaceous stoneflies in a sandy bottomed stream. Oecologia 103:1-9.

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