African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Macroinvertebrates associated with two submerged macrophytes, Lagarosiphon ilicifolius and Vallisneria aethiopica, in the Sanyati Basin, Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe: effect of plant morphological complexity

C Phiri, A Chakona, JA Day


Vallisneria aethiopica and Lagarosiphon ilicifolius are common and abundant submerged macrophytes in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. The two species have distinct structural morphologies, with Vallisneria consisting of long ribbonlike leaves, while Lagarosiphon has filiform stems with numerous small alternate leaves. This study investigated the effect of these architectural differences between the two plant species on their epiphytic macroinvertebrate assemblages in the shallow inshore waters of Lake Kariba. Ten sites were sampled on three occasions between May and July 2005. A total of 56 macroinvertebrate taxa was collected, 48 from Lagarosiphon and 45 from Vallisneria. Generally, the two plant species were associated with similar macroinvertebrate communities, but the average abundances of most taxa, and thus the overall macroinvertebrate abundances, were significantly greater on Lagarosiphon. The main macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups found on both plant species were collector-gatherers, grazers and predators, all of which were significantly more abundant on Lagarosiphon. Although the macroinvertebrate assemblages associated with Vallisneria and Lagarosiphon generally consisted of the same taxa, there were distinct and significant differences between them, probably due to the architectural differences between the two submerged macrophytes.

Keywords: abundance, aquatic vegetation, community composition, diversity, habitat heterogeneity

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2012, 37(3): 277–288
AJOL African Journals Online