Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

J. Checo Colon-Gaud

Committee Member 1

John Carroll

Committee Member 2

Ray Chandler

Abstract

Predicted increases in the frequency of intense storms and periods of severe drought due to climate change represent a threat to wetland macroinvertebrate communities through alterations to the hydrological regime. I used experimental ponds to assess the effects of water permanence (i.e., duration of flooding) on the communities of aquatic macroinvertebrates. I predicted that permanent ponds would harbor higher diversity of longer-lived taxa whereas temporary ones will favor colonization by quick turnover, short-lived taxa and support lower consumer diversity. Results show differences in macroinvertebrate communities between permanent and temporary ponds can be mostly explained by hydrology and the amount of time these were covered by water. While biomass (B) and richness (S) of macroinvertebrates were related to treatment type, their abundance (N) was not. I also found that across both treatments many individuals were generalist collector-gatherers of small body size inhabiting fine-sediments, the open limnetic zone or vascular plants having multiple generations per year (multivoltine) and emerging in a highly synchronous manner at all times of the season. The results from this study show that the length of time these ponds retain water and the time of year in which these flooding events occur have major impacts on the natural succession of resettlement within temporary wetlands. The data obtained in this study aids in further understanding what communities of aquatic macroinvertebrates are supported by different conditions (i.e., potential disturbances), as well as what ecosystem functions will be the most impacted by these changes along the wetlands of the southeastern Coastal Plain.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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