The role of habitat selection in structuring community structure in aquatic insects: response to a large scale landscape change in canopy cover

Increasing levels of canopy cover (shading) over ponds is associated with a decline in the species diversity in ponds for many groups of aquatic insects. It is critical to understand the processes driving this pattern because the abandonment of small scale farms has resulted in the growth of dense secondary forests in portions of the Northeast and the upper Midwest of North America. This research will develop an understanding of how changes in the terrestrial environment may alter aquatic communities and threaten some species’ persistence. We will use an experimental approach to test whether observed declines in diversity arise from habitat selection behaviour (i.e. insects choosing not to colonize these sites) or from conditions that limit the growth and survivorship of insects colonizing these sites.

Principal Investigator: Shannon McCauley

Researcher: Sarah French

 

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