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Leaf litter quality affects aquatic insect emergence: Contrasting patterns from two foundation trees

Leaf litter quality affects aquatic insect emergence: Contrasting patterns from two foundation trees

leshyk illustration leaf litter in water

The mass emergence of metamorphosed aquatic insect larvae as airborne adults provides an important seasonal pulse of prey biomass to many aquatic ecosystems.  Ecoss research explored whether the type and quality of leaf litter on which these aquatic larvae feed makes a difference in the types and proportions of various emerging insects in a local area.  The findings reveal that closely-related tree species produce litter that fosters similar emerging insect communities, showing that the makeup of riparian vegetation has a ripple effect in shaping the “quality” of locally-emerging insects, with consequences for the other players in local food webs and energy transfer.

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