Trophic Basis of Production in Tropical Headwater Streams, Puerto Rico: An Assessment of the Importance of Allochthonous Resources in Fueling Food Webs

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The relative importance of allochthonous and autochthonous resources in fueling tropical headwater streams remains an open topic. We combined estimates of secondary production and assessment of its trophic basis to determine which resources were responsible for animal production. We studied benthic insect assemblages in two streams in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Habitat-weighted production estimates were similar in both streams (528.5 and 591.5 mg m−2 year−1), but production was over twice as high in pool versus riffle habitats. The mayfly Neohagenulus (Leptophlebiidae) was a major contributor to total production (259.1 and 352.2 mg m−2 year−1). All taxa relied heavily on amorphous detritus and plant tissue. Aquatic insect production was similar to that reported for shrimp assemblages in the same study area, but low relative to temperate region estimates. The trophic basis of production appears to be allochthonous organic matter, which agrees with the small size and closed canopy cover over the study streams. This is the first study quantifying the production and trophic basis of the non-shrimp macroinvertebrate assemblage in tropical island streams. We also provide support for the importance of riparian vegetation as the main energy sources for stream tropical stream food webs.


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