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Associations Between Macroinvertebrates and Paralemanea mexicana, an Endemic Freshwater Red Alga from a Mountain River in Central Mexico

Caro-Borrero, A, Carmona-Jiménez, J
Neotropical entomology 2016 v.45 no.6 pp. 665-674
Glossosomatidae, Ochrotrichia, Rhodophyta, algae, aquatic invertebrates, biocenosis, freshwater, gametophytes, germination, herbivores, light intensity, lotic systems, macroinvertebrates, macrophytes, microhabitats, predators, rivers, seasonal variation, vegetative propagation, Mexico
Macrophytes are common inhabitants of lotic environments and, depending on their morphological traits, possess adaptations that provide shelter to aquatic invertebrates against strong river flow and predators. They may also be used as a food source by macroinvertebrates. The main goal of this study was to determine the relationship between the red alga Paralemanea mexicana and its role as a shelter and/or food source for lotic macroinvertebrates. We also conducted research on the role of microhabitat and morphological variations of the alga in determining macroinvertebrate taxon abundance, diversity, and functional group composition in a high-current velocity river. Results showed that changes in cover and morphology of P. mexicana were mostly correlated with river current velocity, irradiance, and seasonal variation. In turn, these were related to changes in abundance and diversity of the associated macroinvertebrate community. In addition, six macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups were evaluated for associations with the red alga: filtering and gathering collectors, piercers, scrapers, herbivore shredders, and predators. The results showed that the Trichoptera Hydroptilidae genera Ochrotrichia and Metrichia use P. mexicana as a food source and case-building material. The Trichoptera Glossosomatidae Mortoniella uses the alga as a substrate. The biotic interactions between P. mexicana and associated macroinvertebrates reveal the importance of macrophytes as purveyors of substrate, as food and shelter for macroinvertebrates, and also as promoters of macroinvertebrate community diversity. In addition, it was shown that macroinvertebrate herbivory likely facilitates vegetative propagation of the red alga through increased release and germination of carpospores and new gametophytes.