INVERTEBRATE ABUNDANCE ON POTAMOGETON-NODOSUS - EFFECTS OF PLANT-SURFACE AREA AND CONDITION
Using the macrophyte Potamogeton nodosus, we investigated variability in abundance of plant-dwelling invertebrates among individual plants. Plants were collected from three Potamogeton beds in Eau Galle Lake, Wisconsin, in June and August 1987. Invertebrate abundance on P. nodosus and the amount of plant surface area were positively correlated in both June and August. In August the amount of leaf damage (plant condition) was another important predictor of invertebrate abundance. Plant surface area and plant condition were responsible for most to almost all of the variability in invertebrate abundance on P. nodosus (R2 = 0.66 in June; R2 = 0.83 in August). The correlation between invertebrate abundance and plant condition in August and the lack of such a correlation in June indicated that plant age, rather than plant condition per se, was a causal mechanism for increased invertebrate abundance. Some plants were heavily colonized by invertebrates: a single plant collected in June held a total of 555 invertebrates, which included 177 chironomid larvae and 143 naidid worms. We estimate that the P. nodosus in a 20 x 60 m Potamogeton bed supported about 33 million invertebrates in June and approximately 30 million invertebrates in August. The use of take management techniques in which plants are eliminated would therefore markedly reduce invertebrate abundance in the littoral zone, and would, in turn, deny fishes and waterfowl an important and abundant food resource.