Influences of seasonal flooding on macroinvertebrate abundance in wetland habitats


  • Contribution No. 16739 of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and Paper No. 48 of the Marsh Ecology Research Project, a joint project of the Delta Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Station and Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Dr Hilary A. Neckles. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, U.S.A.


SUMMARY. 1. We studied the effects of seasonal flooding on macro-invertebrate abundance by manipulating water regime and detrital level within three contiguous experimental marshes in Manitoba, Canada, over 2 years. One area was seasonally flooded (standing water present through midsummer) with emergent vegetation left undisturbed throughout the study, one was semipermanently flooded (standing water present through the ice-free season) with the vegetation left undisturbed, and one was seasonally flooded with the vegetation harvested at the end of the first summer.

2. Abundances of frequent macroinvertebrate taxa were compared between the seasonally flooded-undisturbed treatment area and each of the other areas.

3. Densities of total invertebrates and of the dominant taxa (Cladocera, Ostracoda and Culicidae) were reduced dramatically by a year of semipermanent flooding, despite high levels of paniculate organic food resources and low populations of predators. Densities were not reduced by lowering the availability of detritus under seasonally flooded conditions.

4. Taxa unaffected by water regime included Dytiscidae, Corixidae, Chironomidae, Ceratopogonidae and Ephydridae.

5. Semi-permanent flooding may have eliminated environmental cues necessary for oviposition, embryonic development and hatch among dominant taxa. High invertebrate densities in temporary waters may be more dependent upon life history traits of resident fauna than upon habitat features such as food availability or predation pressure.