Colonization of artificial substrates by micrometazoa

TitleColonization of artificial substrates by micrometazoa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsPratt JR, Ladzick M, Jr. JCairns
JournalArchiv fur Hydrobiologie

This research examined the colonization of polyurethane foam artificial substrates by micrometazoa. Polyurethane foam artificial substrates have been used previously to examine the colonization dynamics of freshwater protozoan species (including phytoflagellate algae). It was hypothesized that micrometazoans of similar size and habitat as larger protozoan species would colonize polyurethane foam substrates in a manner similar to that predicted by MacArthur & Wilson for habitat islands. Polyurethane foam artificial substrates were placed in eight different wetland ecosystems for colonization over a 21-day period. Substrates were collected five times over the course of experiments, and the metazoan taxa that had colonized substrates were identified. In general, metazoan colonization of artificial substrates followed patterns similar to those for protozoans and similar to those predicted by MacArthur and Wilson. The major metazoan colonists were rotifers, but also included gastrotrichs, annelids, amphipods, and some larval insects. Colonization was so rapid in some nutrient rich, productive habitats that the colonization process could not be modeled effectively. Similar difficulties in fitting the colonization model to protozoan species accrual data have been found for these same ecosystems. Colonization in ecosystems with expected patterns was dominated by rare taxa, while rapid colonization in some ecosystems showed increasingly assortative processes changing community structure over time. However, the total number of metazoan taxa present on the artificial substrate remained relatively constant over time. These experiments suggest that metazoan colonization of artificial substrates may be a good indicator of ecosystem conditions, including nutrient loading, as has been previously demonstrated for protozoan colonization processes. Metazoan groups, especially rotifers, may be studied for their colonization behavior under different environmental conditions.