Long Term Studies of Insect Abundances in Temporary Wetlands in Relation to Hydrology, Predation and Bti
Sammanfattning: Long-term insect abundances have been studied to investigate factors structuring the insect communities of the temporary wetlands around the River Dalälven floodplain. In the wet meadows and swamps in the River Dalälven floodplains recurrent floods are the ultimate prerequisite for high production of floodwater mosquitoes. In the larval stages these make up a superabundant potential prey for aquatic predatory insects while as adults they become nuisance for people and animals. Mosquito control with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) has been carried out in parts of the floodplain wetlands since 2002. This study investigate potential long-term effects of Bti on non-target insects in general, and non-biting midges (Diptera: Chironomidae) and aquatic predator insects in special in 10 temporary wetlands. Diving-beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) were the most common aquatic predatory insects in temporary flooded wetlands, and we found no indications that diving-beetles were negatively affected by mosquito larvae reduction with Bti-treatments. Non-target Bti-effects on the insect community in general, measured as increase or decrease of insect abundances, in general showed no effects of Bti except for Coleoptera. The non-biting midges were studied on species level, since this taxon previously has been associated with negative Bti non-target effects in the short-term. We found no reduced production of chironomids at neither family, nor subfamily level in Bti-treated as compared to untreated wetlands. We conclude that other factors than the occasional Bti-treatments dominate in structuring the chironomids fauna. For example, hydrology measured as floods and hydroperiod had substantial impact on insect emergence Increased hydroperiod was associated with lower insect emergence for the majority of the studied taxa, indicating an insect fauna adapted more to terrestrial conditions. In the final study, we developed and applied a molecular method to study interspecific predator – prey relationships between medium-sized diving beetles and floodwater mosquito larvae. Gut content analyses showed that floodwater mosquito larvae are a regular, but limited, part of the diet of medium-sized diving beetles. This thesis is one of the first long-term studies of insects of temporary wetlands in relation to mosquito control actions. The results indicate that hydrology is one of the major factors influencing and structuring the insect communities of the temporary flooded wetlands in the River Dalälven floodplains, and that mosquito control actions with Bti only have marginal effect on insect abundances.
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