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The effects of willow and eucalypt leaves on feeding preference and growth of some Australian aquatic macroinvertebrates



The effect of leaf species (willow, Salix fragilis L., and white gum, Eucalyptus viminalis Labill.) and leaf state (senescent or green) on the feeding selectivity and growth rates of three species of macroinvertebrate Notalina sp. Mosely (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae), Koorrnonga sp. Campbell and Suter (Ephemeroptera: Leptophlebiidae) and Physastra gibbosa (Gould) (Mollusca: Planorbidae) were tested in the laboratory. All three species of macroinvertebrate selected green willow most strongly over the other leaf types (senescent willow, green eucalypt and senescent eucalypt). Growth rates of P. gibbosa and Notalina sp. were significantly greater on green willow than on the other leaf types. We were unable to measure the growth of Koorrnonga sp. Invertebrates had access to softer internal tissues of leaf material during preference trials, therefore we do not think that leaf structure was the main influence on selection between these materials. Green willow material may have been a better food source because of the noticeably thicker biofilm that it supported, and this material may also retain higher levels of nutrients than abscissed leaves. We speculate that willow leaves may provide a preferred source of food but will be available for less time than native eucalypt detritus.