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Experimental Analysis of Microhabitat Selection in Water‐Striders (Heteroptera: Gerridae)

Spence, J. R.
Ecology 1981 v.62 no.6 pp. 1505-1514
Gerris, biogeography, evolution, foraging, habitat preferences, lakes, microhabitats, spring, vegetation structure, vegetation types
Associations between water—strider species and particular types of vegetation structure result proximately from habitat fidelity at the time of spring colonization and from different preferences for habitats within lakes. Individual gerrids discriminate among lakes during prereproductive dispersal on a trial—and—error basis. Gerrid species differ with respect to preference for emergent cover. Wind and surface disturbance increase preference for sheltered habitats in all species studied but extent of response varies among species. Gerris pingreensis and G. comatus actively seek out emergent cover and open habitats, respectively. G. buenoi is a habitat generalist but distribution of this species is affected by a tendency to avoid other species. Habitat associations of these three common Gerris species are explained in terms of habitat preferences and species interactions. Foraging efficiency varies with habitat structure and species morphology and therefore surface habitats provide a variable selective background for the evolution of gerrid species.