Macroinvertebrate communities associated with duckweed (Lemnaceae) in two Eastern Cape rivers, South Africa
The functional feeding groups and diversity of macroinvertebrate communities associated with duckweed mats in the New Years River (two sites) and Bloukrans River (two sites), Eastern Cape province, South Africa, were assessed. Duckweed (Lemnaceae) is a ubiquitous family of floating macrophytes. A total of 41 macroinvertebrate families were collected monthly over a six-month period from February to July 2014. Duckweed biomass in both rivers was highly variable both temporally and spatially. The majority of identified macroinvertebrate taxa were predators and detritivores, with a small percentage of herbivores. An average of approximately 26% of the macroinvertebrate taxa found were from families that include species from more than one functional feeding group. Although overall measures of diversity and ecosystem health (Fisher’s α and Simpson’s index) remained constant over time in the New Years River, significant differences in macroinvertebrate community structure were seen between sites and months on both rivers, with dissimilarity being driven by a larger number of species in the New Years River. This high variability within macroinvertebrate assemblages probably reflects a combination of heterogeneous duckweed distribution, variation in physico-chemistry, opportunistic behaviours of macroinvertebrate predators and/or successional colonisation of duckweed mats.
Keywords: detritivores, herbivores, Landoltia, Lemna, predators, Wolffia