FCE LTER Journal Articles


Interactions between nutrient availability and hydroperiod shape macroinvertebrate communities in Florida Everglades marshes


Hydroperiod and nutrient status are known to influence aquatic communities in wetlands, but their joint effects are not well explored. I sampled floating periphyton mat and flocculent detritus (floc) infaunal communities using 6-cm diameter cores at short- and long-hydroperiod and constantly inundated sites across a range of phosphorus (P) availability (total phosphorus in soil, floc and periphyton). Differences in community structure between periphyton and floc microhabitats were greater than any variation attributable to hydroperiod, P availability, or other spatial factors. Multivariate analyses indicated community structure of benthic-floc infauna was driven by hydroperiod, although crowding (no. g−1 AFDM) of individual taxa showed no consistent responses to hydroperiod or P availability. In contrast, community structure of periphyton mat infauna was driven by P availability, while densities of mat infauna (no. m−2) were most influenced by hydroperiod (+correlations). Crowding of mat infauna increased significantly with P availability in short-hydroperiod marshes, but was constant across the P gradient in long-hydroperiod marshes. Increased abundance of floating-periphyton mat infauna with P availability at short-hydroperiod sites may result from a release from predation by small fish. Community structure and density were not different between long-hydroperiod and constantly inundated sites. These results have implications for the use of macroinvertebrates as indicators of water quality in wetlands and suggest the substrate sampled can influence interpretation of ecological responses observed in these communities.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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