Macroinvertebrate predators and their role in shaping freshwater communities in constructed wetlands

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2008-07-29

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The recent increase in the number of wetland construction projects has led to numerous studies investigating the response of the macroinvertebrate community in wetlands. Little is known, however, about the factors structuring these communities and how predation may shape community development. Here, I analyze two years of macroinvertebrate community data collected from 9 constructed wetlands at the Jackson Lane Preserve on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Results suggest that abiotic factors may be less important than previously thought in structuring the macroinvertebrate community, and biotic factors such as predation may be more important. I then investigate the role of two larval dytiscid beetles in structuring the primary consumer community. These predators exert strong pressure on the community and, therefore, I conclude that predation is an important factor shaping freshwater communities in constructed wetlands. I offer several suggestions for wetland management with the goal of constructing wetlands with high ecological value.

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