So far, research on plant-associated macroinvertebrates, even if conducted on a large number of water bodies, has mostly focused on a relatively small area, permitting limited conclusions to be drawn regarding potentially broader geographic effects, including climate. Some recent studies have shown that the composition of epiphytic communities may differ considerably among climatic zones. To assess this phenomenon, we studied macroinvertebrates associated with the common reed Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud in 46 shallow lakes using a common protocol. The lakes, located in nine countries, covered almost the entire European latitudinal range (from <48°N to 61°N) and captured much of the variability in lake size and nutrient content in the region. A Poisson Generalized Linear Mixed Model (GLMM) showed the number of macroinvertebrate epiphytic taxa to be negatively associated with water conductivity and positively associated with medium ice cover duration (approximately 1 month). A Gamma GLMM showed a positive effect of chlorophyll a on the density of macroinvertebrates, and a significantly greater density in lakes located at the lowest and highest latitudes. Individual taxa responded differently to lake environmental conditions across climate zones. Chironomidae dominated in all climate zones, but their contribution to total density decreased with increasing latitude, with progressively greater proportions of Naidinae, Asellidae, Ephemeroptera and Trichoptera. Our study demonstrates that epiphytic macroinvertebrate fauna, even when analyzed at low taxonomic resolution, exhibits clear differences in diversity, relative abundance of individual taxa and total density, shaped both by geographic and anthropogenic variables. The results were discussed in the context of climate change. To our best knowledge this is the first study to examine epiphytic fauna carried out on a European scale.
- Epiphytic fauna
- Ice cover