Multiple predator effects on microdistributions, survival, and drift of stream hydropsychid caddisflies

TitleMultiple predator effects on microdistributions, survival, and drift of stream hydropsychid caddisflies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsFairchild MP, Holomuzki JR
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Pagination101 - 112
Date Published03/2005

We studied microdistributions, survival, and drift of larval hydropsychid caddisflies in the physical and/or chemical presence of 2 types of benthic predators with different foraging modes. Sculpins (Cottus bairdi, C. cognatus) are ambush predators, whereas perlid stoneflies (Acroneuria, Paragnetina) are stalkers, and stoneflies are an intermediate predator consumed by sculpins. Hydropsychid larvae in a northern Michigan stream were significantly more abundant in crevices than on flat surfaces on real cobbles in riffles with both predators. Larval colonization on experimental substrates (bricks) in 7 riffles was greater in crevices (grooves) than on flat surfaces, and the greatest differences in larval densities between these microhabitats occurred where predator densities were highest. Mean size (head capsule width) of larvae in both microhabitats was negatively related to densities of sculpins, but not stoneflies. A multifactorial experiment done in artificial stream channels revealed that caddisflies selected crevices over flat surfaces even in predator-free conditions. Sculpin and stonefly effects on hydropsychid survival were additive, suggesting a lack of multiple predator effects. Crevices provided a refuge from predators; however, stoneflies were more effective than large sculpins (>65 mm total length) at consuming hydropsychids in crevices. Like caddisflies, stoneflies predominantly occupied crevices, but stonefly crevice use and activity were not affected by sculpins, and no stoneflies were consumed by sculpins. Caddisfly drift was 3 to 4× greater in the physical presence of each predator than in predator-free channels. However, drift by caddisflies in the physical presence of both predators was lower than expected (i.e., nonadditive), suggesting it is less risky to remain in retreats (i.e., immovable cases) than to drift when both predators are present. Elevated chemical cues of either predator did not trigger drift responses by these sedentary prey. Crevice use and drift appear to be key mechanisms enabling larval hydropsychid caddisflies to coexist with a multispecies complex of predators.