Larval salamanders and diel drift patterns of aquatic invertebrates in an Austrian stream


Dr Johann Waringer, Department of Limnology, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:


1. Aquatic predators may influence drift periodicity either directly or indirectly (by non-consumptive effects involving chemical cues). We took drift samples (eight successive 3-h sampling intervals over a 24-h period) on five dates (September 2007, March, April, June and August 2008). Samples were taken at three sites (one site with trout throughout the year, two sites without trout but with fire salamander larvae as top predators from April to August, but without vertebrate predators during the rest of the year) in a stream near Vienna, Austria, to examine the effects of predators on drift periodicity.

2. Of 45 331 specimens caught, the most abundant taxa were Ephemeroptera (32.3%; mainly Baetidae), Diptera (21.5%; mainly Chironomidae), Amphipoda (17.4%; all Gammarus fossarum), Plecoptera (5.4%), Coleoptera (3.5%) and Trichoptera (1.2%). For more detailed analyses, we chose Ephemeroptera (Baetidae; n = 13 457) and Amphipoda (G. fossarum; n = 7888), which were numerous on all sampling dates.

3. The number of drifting baetids and amphipods, as well as total drift density, was generally higher at night than by day, although without predators these differences were significant for Gammaridae but not for Baetidae.

4. When broken down to size classes, night–day drift ratios generally were not significantly different from equality in all size classes of baetids when larval fire salamanders and trout were absent. When predators were present, however, baetid drift density was usually higher at night, except in the smallest and largest size classes. In all size classes of G. fossarum, drift density was usually higher at night, whether with or without the top predators.

5. Although we could study predator effects on drift periodicity at three sites on only a single stream, it seems that non-consumptive effects may affect Baetidae. Salamander larvae, most probably via kairomones, induced a shift towards mainly nocturnal drift, which could be interpreted as predator avoidance.