Consumer-Resource Linkages during Seasonal Flooding in a Coastal Plains Floodplain (Altamaha River, Georgia)

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Coastal floodplains depend on seasonal flood pulses to trigger certain ecosystem functions (e.g., organic matter processing and transport) that are known to influence aquatic communities. To assess the influence of seasonal flooding on consumer communities we studied aquatic macroinvertebrates and organic matter standing stocks monthly from December 2011-April 2012 in a floodplain of the Altamaha River in southeast Georgia. We hypothesized that changes in organic matter resources associated with seasonal flooding (pre-, peak-, post-flood) would result in changes in the functional structure of macroinvertebrate communities. Gatherers were the dominant functional feeding group during pre-flood (85-87% of total community), and filterers were most abundant during peak-flood conditions (25-47% of total community). Biomass of most taxa decreased during Feb-Mar (peak-flood), except for sphaeriid bivalves (filterers) which increased in biomass during March. Very fine benthic organic matter standing stocks decreased over time which may be attributed to increased discharge. Total macroinvertebrate community abundance was inversely related to flood stage which may be due to increased habitat availability. Increased prevalence of filterers may be caused by increased suspension of benthic organic matter


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