1. The compound influence of habitat complexity and patch size on stream invertebrate assemblages associated with submerged macrophytes was investigated through field sampling of two natural macrophyte species with contrasting leaf morphologies (complex, Ranunculus yezoensis; simple, Sparganium emersum) and an experiment with two artificial plants with different levels of morphological complexity. 2. The artificial plant experiment was designed to separate the effects of habitat area (patch size) and habitat complexity, thus enabling a more rigorous assessment of complexity per se than in previous studies where only a single patch size was used. Simple and complex artificial plants were established with five different patch sizes corresponding to the range found in natural plants. 3. Invertebrates occurred on both complex and simple forms of natural and artificial plants at similar abundances with dipterans and ephemeropterans being predominant. Taxon richness was higher on structurally complex Ranunculus than on simple Sparganium and was similarly higher on the complex artificial plant than on the simple one, over the entire range of habitat patch sizes. Thus, architectural complexity affected the taxon richness of epiphytic invertebrates, independently of habitat scale. 4. On the natural plants there was no difference in the abundance (both number of individuals and biomass) of invertebrates between simple and complex forms, while on artificial plants more invertebrates occurred on complex than on simple forms. The amount of particulate organic matter, >225 μm (POM) and chlorophyll a showed mixed patterns on natural and artificial plants, suggesting that the availability of these resources is not an overriding proximate factor controlling invertebrate abundance on plants. The difficulty of extrapolating from experimental results involving use of artificial plants is discussed, especially when considering the relationship between habitat structure and the occurrence of epiphytic invertebrates on natural plants.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science