Forestry affects food webs in northern Swedish coastal streams
Göthe, Emma; Lepori, Fabio; Malmqvist, Björn
published: Dec 1, 2009
ArtNo. ESP141017504002, Price: 29.00 €
We investigated how riparian logging affects the food webs of coastal streams in northern Sweden by comparing streams surrounded either by clear-cuts or old-growth forests. Specific hypotheses were that: (i) algal standing stocks are higher in clear-cut streams, whereas detrital standing stocks are higher in old-growth streams; (ii) algal-based (autotrophic) pathways contribute more to consumer (aquatic insect) body carbon in clear-cut streams than in old-growth streams; (iii) a higher autotrophic contribution reflects a combination of numerical (increased abundance of herbivore taxa) and functional (shift in diet by generalist taxa) responses of insect taxa to logging; and (iv) potential predators function more strictly as true predators, and reduce propensity to omnivory in clear-cut relative to old-growth streams. The standing stocks of algae and fine particulate organic matter (FPOM) were similar between treatments, whereas the standing stock of coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM) was higher in old-growth streams. Stable isotope analysis suggested that the autochthonous contribution to aquatic insect carbon per individual taxon was greater in clear-cut than in old-growth streams; although the difference was not statistically conclusive the large effect size suggests that it is biologically meaningful. Greater reliance on autotrophic pathways in clear-cut streams seemed to be caused by a decrease in the relative consumption of detritus by the generalist species Leuctra hippopus, an increase in the abundance of the specialist herbivore Baetis rhodani, and a diffuse increase in the consumption of algae across all functional feeding groups except gathering-collectors. Resources and consumers were enriched in 15N in clear-cut relative to old-growth streams, suggesting that forestry affects the microbial processing of organic nitrogen, which in turn causes an increased availability of 15N to algae. The enrichment in 15N in clear-cut relative to old-growth streams was apparent in all functional feeding groups except for gathering-collectors. In summary, our results show that riparian logging affects the balance of aquatic vs. terrestrial carbon sources and the cycling of nutrients in streams, with effects reverberating to the aquatic consumers.