Secondary production, longevity and resource consumption rates of freshwater shrimps in two tropical streams with contrasting geomorphology and food web structure

TitleSecondary production, longevity and resource consumption rates of freshwater shrimps in two tropical streams with contrasting geomorphology and food web structure
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsCross, WF, Covich, A, Crowl, AT, Benstead, JP, Ramírez, A
JournalFreshwater Biology
Volume53
Pagination2504-2519
Accession NumberLUQ.1034
KeywordsXiphocaris
Abstract

Freshwater shrimps often dominate the biomass of tropical island streams and are known to have strong effects on stream ecosystem structure and function, but little effort has been dedicated toward quantifying basic energetic and life history attributes such as growth, production and longevity. Such information is critical for understanding both the role of shrimps in ecosystem dynamics and the gravity of threats to shrimp populations posed by human activities such as shrimp harvesting, dam construction and water withdrawal.We quantified growth rates and secondary production of dominant freshwater shrimps for 3 years in two Puerto Rican headwater streams that differ in food web structure because of the presence or absence of predatory fishes that are excluded from reaches above waterfalls. Using growth data, we constructed a minimum longevity model to explore the likely minimum life spans of the two dominant taxa (Atya spp. and Xiphocaris elongata). Finally, we used a bioenergetics model to quantify annual consumption rates of major basal resources by the two taxa. Daily growth rates ranged from −0.001 to 0.011 day−1, were inversely related to body size, and were higher for small individuals of X. elongata than Atya spp. Mean annual shrimp biomass and secondary production were an order of magnitude higher in the stream that lacked predatory fishes (biomass: 4.34 g AFDM m−2; production: 0.89 g AFDM m−2 year−1) than in the stream with predatory fishes (biomass: 0.12 g AFDM m−2; production: 0.02 g AFDM m−2 year−1). Production : biomass ratios ranged from 0.01 to 0.38. Our longevity model predicted a minimum life span of 8 years for Atya spp. and 5 years for X. elongata in the stream lacking predatory fishes. In contrast, due to a larger average size of X. elongata in the stream with predatory fishes, our model predicted a minimum life span of 11 years. Actual life spans of these taxa are likely to be much longer based on long-term observations of marked individuals. Estimated consumption rates from the bioenergetics model indicated that Atya spp. and X. elongata are important processors of organic matter resources in streams where they occur at high densities. Atya spp. and X. elongata appeared capable of consuming a large proportion of algal and insect production and the proportion of direct leaf litter inputs consumed was also appreciable (c. 40–60%). However, the consumption of suspended fine particulate organic matter (SFPOM) by Atya spp. is probably only a minor proportion of total SFPOM flux in these streams. Our study suggests that geomorphic features such as waterfalls may play an important role in controlling the distribution and production of freshwater shrimps through their effects on predatory fish movement. Spatial differences in shrimp densities result in landscape-scale variation in the significance to ecosystem processes of these long-lived organisms, particularly as processors of major organic matter resources.

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