eCite Digital Repository

Habitat structural complexity mediates food web dynamics in a freshwater macrophyte community


Warfe, DM and Barmuta, LA, Habitat structural complexity mediates food web dynamics in a freshwater macrophyte community, Oecologia, 150, (1) pp. 141-154. ISSN 0029-8549 (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00442-006-0505-1


A considerable amount of research has investigated the influence of habitat structure on pred- ator success, yet few studies have explored the implica- tions for community structure and food-web dynamics. The relative importance of macrophyte structure and fish predation on the composition of the macroinverte- brate and periphyton communities in a lowland river was investigated using a multifactorial caging experi- ment. We hypothesised that: (1) fish predators are less effective in a more structurally complex macrophyte analogue; (2) strong direct and indirect effects of fish predators (e.g. trophic cascades) are less likely to occur in a structurally complex habitat; and (3) the strength of these patterns is influenced by the composition of the prevailing community assemblage. We measured the abundance and composition of the macroinverte- brate and periphyton communities associated with three different-shaped macrophyte analogues, under different fish predator treatments and at different times. Macrophyte analogue architecture had strong, consistent effects on both the macroinvertebrate and periphyton communities; both were most abundant and diverse on the most structurally complex plant analogue. In contrast, the fish predators affected only a subset of the macroinvertebrate community and there was a suggestion of minor indirect effects on periphy- ton community composition. Contrary to expectations, the fish predators had their strongest effects in the most structurally complex macrophyte analogue. We con- clude that in this system, macrophyte shape strongly regulates the associated freshwater assemblage, result- ing in a diverse community structure less likely to exhibit strong effects of fish predation. © Springer-Verlag 2006.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Freshwater ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Warfe, DM (Dr Danielle Warfe)
UTAS Author:Barmuta, LA (Associate Professor Leon Barmuta)
ID Code:42817
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:138
Deposited By:TAFI - Zoology
Deposited On:2006-08-01
Last Modified:2007-10-23

Repository Staff Only: item control page