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Keywords:

  • colonization;
  • emergent macrophytes;
  • Insecta;
  • macroinvertebrates;
  • seasonal wetlands

1. We conducted field experiments to examine factors influencing macroinvertebrate colonization of seasonally flooded marshes. Few macroinvertebrate species were found aestivating in soils within non-flooded wetlands indicating that most taxa colonize these marshes from other flooded habitats. 2. We manipulated amounts of salt grass (Distichlisspicata) to examine how emergent plant cover affects aerial colonization by macroinvertebrates. Areas mowed 3 weeks before flooding had low plant cover, areas mowed 5 and 9 weeks before flooding had medium and high plant cover, respectively, and non-mowed control areas had the most plant cover. Macroinvertebrate numbers and biomass were generally higher in mowed treatment areas than in control areas, but overall diversity was generally higher in high plant cover and control areas than in low plant cover areas. 3. Mosquitoes (Culicidae), brine flies (Ephydridae) and hover flies (Syrphidae) were positively correlated with amount of plant cover, and waterboatmen (Corixidae), midges (Chironomidae) and water scavenger beetles (Hydrophilidae) were negatively correlated with plant cover. Species assemblages changed seasonally among treatment areas because these taxa colonize wetlands at different times in the year. 4. These results demonstrate that invertebrate communities may be different within plant stands with heterogeneous amounts of emergent cover, and management practices that alter the structure of wetland vegetation can influence macroinvertebrate communities colonizing seasonal marshes.