Trophic linkages between periphyton and grazing macroinvertebrates in rivers with different levels of catchment development

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Journal Article
Hydrobiologia, 2009, 625 (1), pp. 135 - 150
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Stable isotope signatures (δ13C and δ15N) were used to compare trophic linkages between epilithic periphyton and three families of macroinvertebrates (Baetidae, Leptophlebiidae and Gripopterygidae) in riffles of two rivers with developed catchments (including agriculture, urbanization, impoundment and flow regulation) and two with undeveloped catchments (native forest with no major impoundments) in the Murrumbidgee River system, New South Wales, Australia. Periphyton had much higher average δ15N values and lower average C:N ratios in the developed rivers than in the undeveloped rivers, probably because of the combined effects of nutrient enrichment, upstream impoundment and alteration of riparian vegetation. The invertebrates were generally slightly depleted in 13C and 15N relative to expected values if they were assimilating whole periphyton alone, which suggests that they were assimilating periphyton components selectively or also consuming other foods. The match in isotope signatures between periphyton and invertebrates was only slightly weaker in the developed than in the undeveloped rivers, suggesting that development did not greatly disrupt trophic linkages between periphyton and these invertebrates. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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