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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2024

Microbial community history and leaf species shape bottom-up effects in a freshwater shredding amphipod

Goncalves, Sara; Pollitt, Annika; Pietz, Sebastian; Feckler, Alexander; Bundschuh, Mirco


Arable land use and the associated application of agrochemicals can affect local freshwater communities with consequences for the entire ecosystem. For instance, the structure and function of leaf-associated microbial communities can be affected by pesticides, such as fungicides. Additionally, the leaf species on which these microbial communities grow reflects another environmental filter for community structure. These factors and their interaction may jointly modify leaves' nutritional quality for higher trophic levels. To test this assumption, we studied the structure of leaf-associated microbial communities with distinct exposure histories (pristine [P] vs vineyard run off [V]) colonising two leaf species (black alder, European beech, and a mixture thereof). By offering these differently colonised leaves as food to males and females of the leaf-shredding amphipod Gammarus fossarum (Crustacea; Amphipoda) we assessed for potential bottom-up effects. The growth rate, feeding rate, faeces production and neutral lipid fatty acid profile of the amphipod served as response variable in a 2 x 3 x 2 -factorial test design over 21d. A clear separation of community history (P vs V), leaf species and an interaction between the two factors was observed for the leaf-associated aquatic hyphomycete (i.e., fungal) community. Sensitive fungal species were reduced by up to 70 % in the V-compared to P-community. Gammarus' growth rate, feeding rate and faeces production were affected by the factor leaf species. Growth was negatively affected when Gammarus were fed with beech leaves only, whereas the impact of alder and the mixture of both leaf species was sex-specific. Overall, this study highlights that leaf species identity had a more substantial impact on gammarids relative to the microbial community itself. Furthermore, the sex-specificity of the observed effects (excluding fatty acid profile, which was only measured for male) questions the procedure of earlier studies, that is using either only one sex or not being able to differentiate between males and females. However, these results need additional verification to support a reliable extrapolation.


Leaf litter breakdown; Shredders; Aquatic fungi; Exposure history; Food quality; Fatty acids

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2024, Volume: 912, article number: 168926
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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