Honors Project On-Campus Access Only
Aquatic macroinvertebrates are vital to lentic ecosystem functioning because of their importance in food webs, trophic interactions, and complex life cycles. Because adult aquatic macroinvertebrates are often highly mobile, colonization of new wetlands can happen often, and ecosystem characteristics can act as environmental filters on community composition. Road infrastructure located near or through wetlands also poses a significant threat to macroinvertebrates due to a multitude of stressors, including habitat fragmentation and degradation, barriers of movement and gene flow, noise pollution, direct mortality, and light and chemical pollution. Road salt application for deicing during the winter increases the salinity of freshwater ecosystems near roads, and many taxa of macroinvertebrates are extremely sensitive to this change in water quality. Human development can also reduce littoral inputs into aquatic systems via tree removal and deforestation, altering nutrient availability, and habitat spatial heterogeneity in wetlands. Although these disturbances have been studied previously in isolation, their interaction effects are unknown. Using a multi-factorial mesocosm design, it was found that treatment (control, +salt/CT litter, CT salt/+litter, +salt/+litter) had no significant statistical effects on macroinvertebrate community composition or individual family abundance. Additionally, treatment conditions did not alter taxa richness or functional diversity significantly. These results suggest that these taxa do not respond to salinity or leaf litter presence in newly colonized habitat patches and point towards the potential resilience of these communities under these anthropogenic disturbances. The growing alteration of these important wetland habitats requires more examination to fully understand the response of these species to current and future change.
Battle, Zoë T. and Heskel, Mary A., "Effects of leaf litter and road salt on aquatic macroinvertebrate colonization and survival" (2023). Biology Honors Projects. 25.
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