Fatty acids reveal the importance of autochthonous non-vascular plant inputs to an austral river food web

Fatty acids reveal the importance of autochthonous non-vascular plant inputs to an austral river... We hypothesised that the dominant organic source supporting macroinvertebrate consumers in a South African river is autochthonously produced non-vascular algae (regardless of season), and that the prevalence of autochthony increases with increasing distance from the headwaters. Fatty acid profiles of macroinvertebrates from six sites and four sample times were assessed to characterise the consumer diets and estimate the relative assimilation of autochthonous versus allochthonous-based sources in the food web. Fatty acid markers, ordination analyses and mixing models confirmed that the ultimate nutritional source for the invertebrate assemblages was autochthonous-produced carbon, with some contributions occurring from vascular plants (potentially of allochthonous and autochthonous origin, as some vascular plants were aquatic macrophytes). However, contrary to our second hypothesis, the prevalence of autochthony did not change predictably along the river. Such an autochthonous-based food web is consistent with many large rivers in well-researched regions of the world, although the complexity and variability that we observed in the fatty acid profiles of macroinvertebrate consumers in a small South African river should help stimulate renewed interest in investigations of carbon flow within small rivers from less-studied regions (particularly in arid climates). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hydrobiologia Springer Journals

Fatty acids reveal the importance of autochthonous non-vascular plant inputs to an austral river food web

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Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer International Publishing AG
Subject
Life Sciences; Freshwater & Marine Ecology; Ecology; Zoology
ISSN
0018-8158
eISSN
1573-5117
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10750-017-3347-4
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We hypothesised that the dominant organic source supporting macroinvertebrate consumers in a South African river is autochthonously produced non-vascular algae (regardless of season), and that the prevalence of autochthony increases with increasing distance from the headwaters. Fatty acid profiles of macroinvertebrates from six sites and four sample times were assessed to characterise the consumer diets and estimate the relative assimilation of autochthonous versus allochthonous-based sources in the food web. Fatty acid markers, ordination analyses and mixing models confirmed that the ultimate nutritional source for the invertebrate assemblages was autochthonous-produced carbon, with some contributions occurring from vascular plants (potentially of allochthonous and autochthonous origin, as some vascular plants were aquatic macrophytes). However, contrary to our second hypothesis, the prevalence of autochthony did not change predictably along the river. Such an autochthonous-based food web is consistent with many large rivers in well-researched regions of the world, although the complexity and variability that we observed in the fatty acid profiles of macroinvertebrate consumers in a small South African river should help stimulate renewed interest in investigations of carbon flow within small rivers from less-studied regions (particularly in arid climates).

Journal

HydrobiologiaSpringer Journals

Published: Aug 16, 2017

References

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