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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/766

Title: Aquatic insects in an estuarine environment: densities, distribution and salinity tolerance
Authors: Williams, Dudley
Williams, Nancy
Issue Date: 1998
Publisher: Blackwell Science Ltd
Citation: Freshwater Biology (1998) 39, 411-421
Abstract: 1. Aquatic insects were quantitatively surveyed at five sites along the tidally influenced section of a river dominated estuary in North Wales. Site 1 was the furthest upstream and was established as a reference site as it was never inundated by salt water. Site 5 was the furthest downstream and was inundated by all incoming tides. Numerically, insects made up 32% of the estuarine invertebrate fauna. 2. Although the densities of most insect taxa decreased towards the estuary mouth, there were significant numbers present downstream for much of the year; for example, in April at site 4 (which was inundated by 81% of all high tides), a mean of 3514 chironomid larvae were recorded per m2 of estuary bed. Even at site 5, which was inundated twice daily, there were 747 larvae per m2. Among the larger aquatic insects, caddisfly and elmid beetle larvae, together with stonefly nymphs, were consistently taken at site 4 (e.g. maxima of forty eight caddisfly larvae m 2 in December and seventy elmids m 2 in April), although their densities were lower than upstream. 3. There were seasonal shifts in the longitudinal distribution of several taxa, most notably the extension of chironomids down the estuary in April and July, and the concentration of simuliid larvae and mayfly nymphs at site 2 in July. The total freshwater benthos showed a downstream shift between September and December, which was maintained through April and into the summer. The latter was despite peak saltwater inundation (highest tides) in October, November and April. In June and July, when saltwater intrusion was lowest, the ranges of many aquatic insects had contracted to sites 1 and 2. 4. Laboratory experiments showed that virtually all individuals of nineteen species of insects collected from site 1 (freshwater) survived a 4 h immersion in 8.75 saltwater (25% strength seawater). Immersion in progressively more saline solutions reduced the survivorship of first the mayflies, followed by the caddisflies Glossosoma conformis and Hydropsyche instabilis. After 4 h in full strength seawater, all specimens of the stonefly Dinocras cephalotes, over half of the Perla bipunctata, and some individuals of nine species of caddisfly were alive. Four species of caddisfly (Sericostoma personatum, Odontocerum albicorne, Potamophylax cingulatus and Adicella reducta) survived a 24 h simulated tidal cycle of immersion. With the exception of P. cingulatus, a few individuals of these caddisfly species survived immersion in full strength seawater for 24 h. For some individual species there was good agreement between their observed longitudinal distribution in the estuary and laboratory measured salinity tolerance; however, there was no significant correlation, overall, for the fauna.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/766
Appears in Collections:Biology

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