Effects of morphometric isolation and vegetation on the macroinvertebrate community in shallow Baltic Sea land-uplift bays

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Botany, Stockholm university

Abstract: Shallow sheltered Baltic Sea bays are ecologically important habitats that harbour a unique vegetation community and constitute vital reproduction areas for many coastal fish species. Knowledge about the invertebrate community in these bays is, however, limited. This thesis examines the macroinvertebrate community in shallow sheltered Baltic Sea bays and how it is affected by: (1) the natural morphometric isolation of bays from the sea due to post-glacial land uplift; and (2) differences in vegetation types. The invertebrate biomass and number of taxa was found to decrease with increased bay isolation. The taxon composition changed from dominance by bivalves and gastropods in open bays to a community composed of a larger proportion of insects in isolated bays. Stable isotope analysis indicated epiphytes and periphyton as the major energy resources for most of the examined consumers, but the relative importance of these in relation to larger plants decreased for some consumers with increased bay isolation. A comparison of invertebrate abundance between plants revealed a close relationship with morphological complexity of the plants. More complexly structured plants had higher invertebrate abundance than plants with simpler morphology. The results suggest that management of these coastal habitats should be dynamic and take into consideration the natural change in invertebrate community resulting from the slow bay isolation process. In addition, the results imply that changes in the aquatic vegetation due to anthropogenic influences could induce changes in the invertebrate community as the plant habitat structure is altered. A changed invertebrate community may in turn affect higher trophic levels since invertebrates are important food for many fish and waterfowl species.