The University of Sheffield
Catchment Science Centre

Aquatic terrestrial linkages along a braided-river: Riparian arthropods feeding on aquatic insects


ECOSYSTEMS 8 (7): 748-759


Rivers can provide important sources of energy for riparian biota. Stable isotope analysis (delta(13)C, delta(15)N) together with linear mixing models, were used to quantify the importance of aquatic insects as a food source for a riparian arthropod assemblage inhabiting the shore of the braided Tagliamento River (NE Italy). Proportional aquatic prey contributions to riparian arthropod diets differed considerable among taxa. Carabid beetles of the genus Bembidion and Nebria picicornis fed entirely on aquatic insects. Aquatic insects made up 80% of the diet of the dominant staphylinid beetle Paederidus rubrothoracicus. The diets of the dominant lycosid spiders Arctosa cinerea and Pardosa wagleri consisted of 56 and 48% aquatic insects, respectively. In contrast, the ant Manica rubida fed mainly on terrestrial sources. The proportion of aquatic insects in the diet of lycosid spiders changed seasonally, being related to the seasonal abundance of lycosid spiders along the stream edge. The degree of spatial and seasonal aggregation of riparian arthropods at the river edge coincided with their proportional use of aquatic subsidies. The results suggest that predation by riparian arthropods is a quantitatively important process in the transfer of aquatic secondary production to the riparian food web.