TITLE

Evidence for ecosystem engineering in a lentic habitat by tadpoles of the western toad

AUTHOR(S)
Wood, Sylvia L. R.; Richardson, John S.
PUB. DATE
September 2010
SOURCE
Aquatic Sciences;Sep2010, Vol. 72 Issue 4, p499
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
number of aquatic organisms have demonstrated an ability to modulate sediment deposition in tropical and temperate stream systems, but little is known about the impact of similar benthic grazing processes in temperate pond systems. Using exclosure experiments in mesocosms, we used tadpoles of the western toad ( Anaxyrus boreas) to investigate two questions: (1) can grazing activities of tadpoles of the western toad in ponds reduce sediment accrual on grazing surfaces (e.g. via bioturbation or ingestion); and (2) do these grazing activities contribute to enhanced periphyton biomass and chlorophyll a content of benthic matter. Mesocosms received pulses of fine sediment weekly over 8 weeks to simulate allochthonous surface inputs following rainstorms. Accumulated sediment and periphyton matter on exposed and grazing-restricted substrate surfaces were measured weekly. Tadpole grazing activity significantly reduced the standing stock of periphyton on open grazing surfaces by 80% in controls. Under sediment-additions, tadpoles effectively removed settled particulate matter from exposed grazing surfaces, but no corresponding increase in periphyton biomass was observed. These results suggest that tadpoles can impact the dynamics of sediment distribution in ponds as well as streams, providing support for a role as 'ecosystem engineers' in these habitats.
ACCESSION #
53723308

 

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