The importance of terrestrial resource subsidies for shredders in open-canopy streams revealed by stable isotope analysis


Karolina Leberfinger, School of Natural Sciences, Linnæus University, SE-391 82 Kalmar, Sweden. E-mail:


1. Allochthonous detritus is the major source of energy in forested streams, but less is known of the importance of terrestrial subsidies to open-canopy streams. Here, we used stable isotope analysis to assess the importance of allochthonous versus autochthonous energy sources to invertebrate shredders in four open-canopy streams in Sweden. Shredders and potential food sources were analysed at both open sites and those with deciduous trees in the riparian zone.

2. Mixing models showed that allochthonous coarse particulate organic matter was the most important energy source to shredders at both the open and wooded sites, suggesting that terrestrial subsidies may be an important process in open-canopy streams, just as they are in forested streams.

3. However, shredders at open sites had a larger proportion of biofilm in their diet than at wooded sites, indicating an ability of shredders to adjust their diet with food availability.

4. We also used the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures to assess the size of the feeding niche of shredders. Feeding on both allochthonous and autochthonous sources at open sites was reflected in a larger feeding niche than at wooded sites for one of the three species analysed. There was substantial overlap of the feeding niche among shredder species, indicating a high functional redundancy within this guild.