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Fringing trees may provide a refuge from prolonged drying for urban wetland invertebrates
journal contributionposted on 2022-10-13, 05:01 authored by S R Strachan, Ed ChesterEd Chester, B J Robson
Climate change is causing prolonged drying in many seasonal wetlands, including urban wetlands, potentially affecting aquatic invertebrates that take refuge in wetland sediment during dry periods and thereby threatening wetland biodiversity. We collected sediment from two habitats: open water (OW) and fringing trees (FT), in eight urban wetlands after seasonal inundation had ended. Both habitats are inundated during winter–spring and dry in summer–autumn. Each sediment sample was divided into subsamples. One set of subsamples were inundated in the laboratory to test the hypothesis that emerging invertebrate assemblages would differ between OW and FT sediments. Another set of subsamples was dried, stored for a year, and inundated to test the hypothesis that prolonged drying would reduce the abundance and taxa richness of emerging invertebrates. The composition of emerging invertebrate assemblages differed between habitats, with more amphibious species found in FT sediment. Invertebrate responses to prolonged drying and storage varied among species: for some, effects depended on habitat type, while others delayed emergence or showed no response. Microcrustacean abundance was unaffected by drying, suggesting that their productivity during refilling may resist drier water regimes. Surface temperatures of dry sediment are cooler beneath FT, and this sediment has higher organic matter, holds more water and is less dense than OW sediment; and FT sediment remained cooler than OW sediment in the laboratory, despite the absence of shading. Fringing trees may therefore provide a refuge for some freshwater invertebrates relying on dormant stages in the sediment to survive drying in urban wetlands.