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Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate drift in southern Appalachian Mountain streams: implications for trout food resources

Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate drift in southern Appalachian Mountain streams: implications for trout food resources,ERIC D. R OMANISZYN,J OHN J

Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate drift in southern Appalachian Mountain streams: implications for trout food resources  
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SUMMARY 1. We characterised aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate drift in six south-western North Carolina streams and their implications for trout production. Streams of this region typically have low standing stock and production of trout because of low benthic productivity. However, little is known about the contribution of terrestrial invertebrates entering drift, the factors that affect these inputs (including season, diel period and riparian cover type), or the energetic contribution of drift to trout. 2. Eight sites were sampled in streams with four riparian cover types. Drift samples were collected at sunrise, midday and sunset; and in spring, early summer, late summer and autumn. The importance of drift for trout production was assessed using literature estimates of annual benthic production in the southern Appalachians, ecotrophic coefficients and food conversion efficiencies. 3. Abundance and biomass of terrestrial invertebrate inputs and drifting aquatic larvae were typically highest in spring and early summer. Aquatic larval abundances were greater than terrestrial invertebrates during these seasons and terrestrial invertebrate biomass was greater than aquatic larval biomass in the autumn. Drift rates of aquatic larval abundance and biomass were greatest at sunset. Inputs of terrestrial invertebrate biomass were greater than aquatic larvae at midday. Terrestrial invertebrate abundances were highest in streams with open canopies and streams adjacent to pasture with limited forest canopy. 4. We estimate the combination of benthic invertebrate production and terrestrial invertebrate inputs can support 3.3-18.2 g (wet weight) m)2 year)1 of trout, which is generally lower than values considered productive (10.0-30.0 g (wet weight) m)2 year)1). 5. Our results indicate terrestrial invertebrates can be an important energy source for trout in these streams, but trout production is still low. Any management activities that attempt to increase trout production should assess trout food resources and ensure their availability.
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