Original paper

Food web of benthic macroinvertebrates in a large Yangtze River-connected lake: the role of flood disturbance

Liu, Xue-Qin; Wang, Hong-Zhu


This study was conducted in Lake Dongtinghu, a large river-connected lake on the Yangtze River floodplain, China. Our goal was to determine trophic relationships among benthic macroinvertebrates, as well as the effects of flood disturbance on the benthic food web of a river-connected lake. Macroinvertebrates in the lake fed mainly on detritus and plankton (both zooplankton and phytoplankton). Food web structure in Lake Dongtinghu was characterized by molluscs as the dominant group, low connectance, high level of omnivory, based on detritus and primary production, and most ingestion concentrating on a few links. Our analyses showed that flood disturbance is an important factor affecting the benthic food web in Lake Dongtinghu. The numbers of species and functional feeding groups (FFGs), and the density and biomass of macroinvertebrates decreased significantly during flooding. Connectance was higher during the flood season than in other seasons, indicating that floods have a strong effect on connectance in this Yangtze River-connected lake. Flood effects on the benthic web were also evident in the decrease of niche overlaps within and among FFGs. Our results provide useful information regarding biodiversity conservation on the Yangtze floodplain. Reconstructing and maintaining natural and regular flow regimes between Yangtze lakes and the river is essential for restoration of macroinvertebrates on the floodplain.


macroinvertebratesfood webflood disturbancefloodplainlake dongtinghu