A Comparison of Pelagic Invertebrate Communities in Vernal Pools and Lakes Around Sewanee, Tennessee
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SubjectUniversity of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee; Department of Biology, University of the South; Vernal Pools; Diversity; Invertebrates; Predatory fish
AbstractVernal pools are seasonally filled and therefore provide a predator free habitat for a diversity of invertebrates, such as salamanders and crustaceans that are normally consumed by fish in aquatic habitats such as lakes. We compared the abundance and diversity of pelagic invertebrates between vernal pools and lakes around Sewanee, Tennessee to determine how the seasonality of vernal pools changed local aquatic communities. From each of three vernal pools and nearby lakes, we collected four samples using a plankton net from three vernal pools and from three lakes. Under a magnification of eight, we counted and identified invertebrate orders, such as Cladocera, Copepoda, and Amphipoda in each sample. Using a t-test, we found that order diversity did not differ between vernal pools and lakes, but abundance was significantly higher in the vernal pools than in lakes. Greater abundance in vernal pools is likely due to the lack of predatory fish that would readily consume invertebrates in the open water. On the other hand, among the vernal pools, there was no difference in pelagic invertebrate abundance, but there was a difference in invertebrate diversity. Airport Pond had a greater diversity of pelagic invertebrates than any of the other ponds, likely due to the fact that this pond is regularly disturbed. The results of our study indicate that vernal pools are an important habitat for many species sensitive to predation pressures.
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