Crayfish are among the largest and most threatened invertebrates in freshwater habitats. Due to their size, behaviour and feeding activity they may affect structure and function of aquatic ecosystems and their organisms. Despite their importance in many freshwaters and available information on their ecology for several species little is known about the European crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium. In order to evaluate the potential effects of indigenous crayfish presence on the structural and functional composition of the zoobenthic community, we measured population size and densities of three A. torrentium populations and compared macroinvertebrate assemblages and physicochemical parameters in three streams with and three without crayfish. The experimental setup considered crayfish effects at a large scale in defined reaches of pristine headwaters in association with the whole benthic fauna under natural conditions. Presence of A. torrentium significantly affected zoobenthic abundance, diversity and the relative proportions of functional feeding groups. In crayfish streams, especially Trichoptera and collector gatherers were more abundant and diverse, while sites without crayfish had significantly higher abundances and diversities of shredders and wood feeders. Our study provided strong evidence that the presence of the indigenous crayfish A. torrentium had important effects on the trophic cascades of headwater stream communities.
Auteurs du document :
M. Weinländer, L. Füreder
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Mots clés :
indigenous invertebrate, ecosystem engineer, headwaters, aquatic insects, functional feeding guilds, invertébrés indigènes, espèce ingénieur, tête de bassin, insectes aquatiques, guilde alimentaire