- Linkages between benthic microbial and feshwater insect communities in degraded peatland ditches
- Ecological Indicators
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Many wetlands are heavily modified and identifying the environmental drivers of indicator groups like aquatic insects is complicated by multiple stressors and co-varying environmental factors. Yet, incorporating data from other biological groups, such as microbial communities, potentially reveals which environmental factors are underpinning insect community composition. In the present study we investigated the application of benthic microbial community composition, as determined by phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, alongside aquatic insect data in 25 peatland ditches in the province of North Holland, The Netherlands. We applied clustering and principal component analysis to a matrix of 26 PLFAs to group ditches by the microbial community. Generalized linear models were used to examine correlations between microbial PLFAs, insects, vegetation (emergent and submerged) and abiotic factors. The ratio of heterotrophic (e.g. sulphate reducing bacteria) to autotrophic (e.g. algae and cyanobacteria) derived PLFAs could be estimated as the ratio between saturated and branched to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (SB/MP). SB/MP was correlated with insect community composition, differences in water chemistry (in particular bicarbonate, sulphate and nutrients) and vegetation cover in the ditches. Moreover, ditches distinguished by their microbial communities differed in the number of insects they supported with differences most pronounced for Odonata, Trichoptera and Chironomus larvae. This study demonstrates that integrating microbial and aquatic insect community data provides insight into key environmental drivers in modified aquatic ecosystems and may facilitate the development of remediation strategies for degraded wetlands.
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