Effect of riparian land use on contributions of terrestrial invertebrates to streams

Research paper by Eric D. Edwards, Alexander D. Huryn

Indexed on: 01 Nov '96Published on: 01 Nov '96Published in: Hydrobiologia


Since terrestrial invertebrates are often consumed by stream fishes, land-use practices that influence the input of terrestrial invertebrates to streams are predicted to have consequences for fish production. We studied the effect of riparian land-use regime on terrestrial invertebrate inputs by estimating the biomass, abundance and taxonomic richness of terrestrial invertebrate drift from 15 streams draining catchments with three different riparian land-use regimes and vegetation types: intensive grazing — exotic pasture grasses (4 streams), extensive grazing — native tussock grasses (6 streams), reserve — native forest (5 streams). Terrestrial invertebrate drift was sampled from replicated stream reaches enclosed by two 1 mm mesh drift nets that spanned the entire channel. The mean biomass of terrestrial invertebrates that entered tussock grassland (12 mg ash-free dry mass m−2 d−1) and forest streams (6 mg AFDM m−2 d−1) was not significantly different (p > 0.05). However, biomass estimated for tussock grassland and forest streams was significantly higher than biomass that entered pasture streams (1 mg AFDM m−2 d−1). Mean abundance and richness of drifting terrestrial invertebrates was not significantly different among land-use types. Winged insects contributed more biomass than wingless invertebrates to both pasture and tussock grassland streams. Winged and wingless invertebrates contributed equally to biomass entering forest streams. Land use was a useful variable explaining landscape-level patterns of terrestrial invertebrate input for New Zealand streams. Evidence from this study suggests that riparian land-use regime will have important influences on the availability of terrestrial invertebrates to stream fishes.