1. Fresh and decomposed Mougeotia sp. (a filamentous green alga) and Elodea nuttallii (a vascular plant) were offered as food to three species of aquatic macroinvertebrates (Lymnnea peregra, Asellus meridianus and Endochironomus albipennis) to test: (i) if filamentous algae are preferred to aquatic higher plants (hereafter, called 'macrophytes') and (ii), as is known for higher plants, if decomposition also results in greater palatability of filamentous algae. 2. Compared with the alga, the macrophyte in both states was of higher nutritional value. Conditioning improved the nutritional value of both food types, but especially of the macrophyte. 3. Both fresh alga and fresh macrophyte were eaten little by all animals except A. meridianus feeding upon the macrophyte. Consumption was higher for both plants in their decomposed state. However, L. peregra consumed more decomposed macrophyte than the decomposed alga. Both decomposed plants were eaten most by E. albipennis followed by A. meridianus and L. peregra. 4. Digestibility of both plants, but especially of the macrophyte, increased significantly after decomposition. The assimilation efficiencies of all animals on the fresh E. nuttallii were higher than on fresh Mougeotia sp. After decomposition, the efficiency increased significantly only on the alga. Consequently, both decomposed plants were assimilated with similar efficiency by all test animals. 5. Amongst aquatic macrophytes, the increase of their consumption and digestibility upon decomposition has hitherto been known only for vascular plants but not for filamentous algae. [KEYWORDS: Macrophytes; lake; biomanipulation; herbivory; defenses; zwemlust; stream]
Original languageEnglish
JournalFreshwater Biology
Journal publication date1995

ID: 189509