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Research article2009Peer reviewed

The influence of freshwater-lake subsidies on invertebrates occupying terrestrial vegetation

Jonsson, Micael; Wardle, David A.


Studies investigating effects of aquatic-derived resource subsidies have often found large effects on terrestrial systems. Those studies have mostly been performed on effects of subsidies derived from oceanic and riverine systems, and very few have considered effects of subsidies from freshwater lakes. However, since lakes can produce large quantities of emergent aquatic insects that end up on nearby land, it is likely that also freshwater-lake subsidies influence terrestrial systems. We performed sweep-net collections of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates at varying distances from the shore on vegetation of islands of varying size, in two freshwater lakes in northern Sweden, as well as on the surrounding mainland. We found that the amounts of aquatic insects on terrestrial vegetation decreased with distance from the shore, and that they were the most abundant on small islands, presumably because small islands have a higher perimeter-to-area ratio. Web-building spiders responded positively to the aquatic subsidy by being the most abundant on small islands and by showing a positive relationship with aquatic insect biomass. However, distance from the shore showed no effects on the spiders. Our results strongly support the view that terrestrial systems are subsidized by lakes, and indicate that freshwater-lake subsidies are important for terrestrial invertebrate community structure on adjacent land. Further, our study shows that ecosystems should be treated as interdependent, not as self-contained units, and may as such be important for an increased understanding of the nature and importance of resource flows across ecosystem boundaries. (C) 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Published in

Acta Oecologica
2009, Volume: 35, number: 5, pages: 698-704

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG14 Life below water

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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