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Shredder Chironomid Diets Are Influenced by Decomposition Rates of Different Leaf Litter Species

Leite-Rossi, L A, Saulino, H H L, Shimabukuro, E M, Cunha-Santino, M B, Trivinho-Strixino, S
Neotropical entomology 2019 v.48 no.1 pp. 38-49
Chironomidae, Hedychium coronarium, Magnolia, Pteridium, analysis of covariance, bottles, digestive system, feeding preferences, larvae, leaves, linear models, organic matter, plant litter, plant tissues, streams
The diet of shredder chironomid larvae depends on the local and temporal conditions of the food resources. We analysed the gut content of shredder chironomid larvae that colonised the leaf litter of three riparian species: Hedychium coronarium, Pteridium arachnoideum and Magnolia ovata. We hypothesised that the differences in the decomposition rates of leaf litter species influence the consumption of plant tissue by shredder chironomid taxa over time. We incubated perforated bottles with each leaf species within four low-order streams during 1st, 3rd, 7th, 22nd, 36th, 55th and 85th day of exposure. We used an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to compare differences in the percentage of AFDM (ash-free dry mass) and AOM (amorphous organic matter) among leaf litter species. To verify differences in the larvae abundance, we used a general linear model, and to test if there were feeding preferences for AFDM and AOM, we used the adapted Paloheimo selectivity index. Magnolia ovata presented a higher quantity of AOM followed by H. coronarium and P. arachnoideum. Pteridium arachnoideum showed a higher AFDM followed by H. coronarium and M. ovata. The larvae abundance was different among plant species and varied significantly with AFDM and AOM quantities. The consumption of plant tissue by shredder chironomid differed temporarily and among riparian species, where facultative or strict shredders showed strong association with different leaf litter species. The amount of AFDM and AOM in plant tissues explained these differences. We highlighted that shredder chironomids displayed an important role as co-participants in the decomposition process.