Invertebrate community structure along a habitat-patch size gradient within a bog pool complex
Towers, Naomi M.
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This thesis characterises species richness and community structure over a habitat-patch size gradient of a typical bog-pool complex, investigating the effect of pool size on aquatic invertebrate communities. In this study, twenty-two pools were surveyed ranging in area from 8.6 m2 to 280.9 m2 within a single complex at Forsinard in the north of Scotland. Three different sampling methods were used: baited and unbaited activity traps and a sediment sampler. Univariate and multivariate methods were used to investigate the effects of pool size and pool location within the complex on species richness and community structure. The research expands our knowledge of peatland pool invertebrates by providing a comprehensive survey of the aquatic invertebrate fauna representative of the Flow Country of northern Scotland. Two IUCN British Red Data Book species were recorded: the Northern Damselfly, Coenagrion hastulatum (Charpentier), and the cased caddisfly, Nemotaulius punctatolineatus (Retzius). Three species of aquatic Coleoptera were collected that have Nationally Notable status according to Ball (1986): Dytiscus lapponicus Gyllenhal, Ilybius aenescens Thomson and Gyrinus minutus Fabricius. All these species are typical of, and often restricted to, this habitat type. The three different sampling methods differed in their sampling efficiency and each gave a different species spectrum. A distinct seasonal change in the samples was also observed. The number of taxa caught per standardised sampling unit (taxon density) was investigated over the pool size gradient. Relationships between taxon density and area were weak or non-existent in both unbaited activity traps and sediment samples. However, the number of beetle species caught in baited activity traps increased significantly with pool size, indicating that the total number of beetle species per pool may also increase over the size gradient. Ratios of the number of predator taxa to prey (non-predator) taxa for each pool ranged from 0.34 to 0.78 with a mean of 0.49 and were not affected by pool area or total taxonomic richness. Taxa displayed a positive abundance-occupancy relationship and the possible underlying mechanisms involved in creating this pattern are discussed. Multivariate techniques showed that pool area, depth, and distance from the centre of the pool complex (periferality) all had a small but significant affect on community composition and that between certain taxa there were distinctly different optima along the pool size gradient. These results are discussed in the context of species area theory.