Lotic dispersal of lentic macroinvertebrates


  • Frank Van de Meutter,

  • Robby Stoks,

  • Luc De Meester

F. Van de Meutter (frank.vandemeutter@bio.kuleuven.be), R. Stoks and L. De Meester, Lab. of Aquatic Ecology, Katholieke Univ. Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Little is known on dispersal of lentic macroinvertebrates. We quantified dispersal of lentic macroinvertebrates through pond connections in a highly connected pond system, and investigated how dispersal rates were affected by connection properties and time of the day (day, night). Furthermore, by comparing the composition of assemblages of dispersing macroinvertebrates with the macroinvertebrate assemblages of source ponds, we tested whether dispersal was neutral or a taxon-specific process. We found that many taxa dispersed through the pond connections. Taxa richness of the dispersing macroinvertebrate assemblage was proportional to taxa richness in the source ponds. The number of individuals that dispersed, however, was not related to source pond densities, possibly because of the highly patchy distribution of lentic macroinvertebrates within ponds. Elevated dispersal rates were recorded for Baetidae, Chironomidae and Physidae, indicating a taxon-specific use of pond connections as dispersal pathway. None of the physical properties of the connections affected dispersal. Macroinvertebrates dispersed more during the night than during daytime. Of seven tested families, Chaoboridae and Chironomidae showed higher dispersal during the night, probably resulting from diel vertical migration, since pond connections mainly transported near-surface water. Flying and non-flying invertebrates dispersed equally frequent through pond connections. For non-flying invertebrates that disperse infrequently over land, dispersal through pond connections may provide an important additional means of dispersal.