LTREB Lake Mývatn Midge Emergence 2008-2011
Adjacent ecosystems are influenced by organisms that move across boundaries, such as insects with aquatic larval stages and terrestrial adult stages that transport energy and nutrients from water to land. However, the ecosystem-level effect of aquatic insects on land has generally been ignored, perhaps because the organisms themselves are individually small. Between 2008-2011 at the naturally productive Lake Myvatn, Iceland we measured total insect emergence from water using emergence traps suspended in the water column. These traps were placed throughout the south basin of Lake Myvatn and were sampled every 1-3 weeks during the summer months (May-August). The goal of this sampling regime was to estimate total midge emergence from Lake Myvatn, with the ultimate goal of predicting, in conjunction with land-based measurements of midge density (see Lake Myvatn Midge Infall 2008-2011) the amount of midges that are deposited on the shoreline of the lake. Estimates from emergence traps between 2008-2011 indicated a range of 0.15 g dw m-2 yr-1 to 3.7 g dw m-2 yr-1, or a whole-lake emergence of 3.1 Mg dw yr-1 to 76 Mg dw yr-1.
<p>Portions of Abstract and methods edited excerpt from Dreyer et al. <em>in Press</em> which was derived, in part, from these data.</p>
I. Study System Lake Mývatn, Iceland (65°36 N, 17°0′ W) is a large (38 km<sup>2</sup>) shallow (4 m max depth) lake divided into two large basins that function mostly as independent hydrologic bodies (Ólafsson 1979). The number of non-biting midge (Diptera: Chironomidae) larvae on the lake bottom is high, but variable: midge production between 1972-74 ranged from 14-100 g ash-free dw m<sup>-2</sup> yr<sup>-1</sup>, averaging 28 g dw m<sup>-2</sup> yr<sup>-1</sup> (Lindegaard and Jónasson 1979). The midge assemblage is mostly comprised of two species (> 90% of total individuals), Chironomus islandicus (Kieffer) and Tanytarsus gracilentus (Holmgren) that feed as larvae in the sediment in silken tubes by scraping diatoms, algae, and detritus off the lake bottom (Lindegaard and Jónasson 1979). At maturity (May-August) midge pupae float to the lake surface, emerge as adults, and fly to land, forming large mating swarms around the lake (Einarsson et al. 2004, Gratton et al. 2008). On land, midges are consumed by terrestrial predators (Dreyer et al. 2012, Gratton et al. 2008), or enter the detrital pool upon death (Gratton et al. 2008, Hoekman et al. 2012). Midge populations naturally cycle with 5-8 year periodicity, with abundances fluctuating by 3-4 orders of magnitude (Einarsson et al. 2002, Ives et al. 2008). II. Midge Emergence Measurement We used submerged conical traps to estimate midge emergence from Lake Mývatn. Traps were constructed of 2 mm clear polycarbonate plastic (Laird Plastics, Madison, WI) formed into a cone with large-diameter opening of 46 cm (0.17 m<sup>2</sup>). The tops of the cones were open to a diameter of 10 cm, with a clear jar affixed at the apex. The trap was weighted to approximately neutral buoyancy, with the jar at the top containing air to allow mature midges to emerge. Traps were suspended with a nylon line ~1 m below the surface of the lake from an anchored buoy. For sampling, traps were raised to the surface and rapidly inverted, preventing midges from escaping. Jars and traps were thoroughly rinsed with lake water to collect all trapped midges, including unmetamorphosed larvae and pupae, and scrubbed before being returned to the lake to prevent growth of epiphytic algae and colonization by midges. We assume that the emergence traps collect all potentially emerging midges from the sampling area, though it is likely an underestimate, since some midges initially captured could fall out of the trap. Thus, our results should be considered a conservative estimate of potential midge emergence from the surface of the lake.We sampled midge emergence throughout the south basin of Lake Mývatn. Emergence was sampled at six sites in 2008 and 2011 and ten sites in 2009 and 2010, with locations relocated using GPS and natural sightlines. Each site had two traps within 5 m of each other that were monitored during midge activity, approximately from the last week of May to the first week of August. Midge emergence outside of this time frame is extremely low (Lindegaard & Jónasson 1979) and we assume it to be zero. Traps were checked weekly during periods of high emergence (initial and final 2-3 weeks of the study), and bi-weekly during low emergence periods in the middle of the study (July). III. Identification, Counts, and Conversions Midges were counted and identified to morphospecies, small and large. The midge (Diptera,Chrionomidae) assemblage at Mývatn is dominated by two species, Chironomus islandicus (Kieffer)(large, 1.1 mg dw) and Tanytarsus gracilentus (Holmgren)(small, 0.1 mg dw), together comprising 90 percent of total midge abundance (Lindegaard and Jonasson 1979). First, the midges collected in the infall traps were spread out in trays, and counted if there were only a few. Some midges were only identified to the family level of Simuliidae, and other arthropods were counted and categorized as the group, others. Arthropods only identified to the family level Simuliidae or classified as others were not dually counted as Chironomus islandicus or Tanytarsus gracilentus . If there were many midges, generally if there were hundreds to thousands, in an infall trap, subsamples were taken. Subsampling was done using plastic rings that were dropped into the tray. The rings were relatively small compared to the tray, about 2 percent of the area of a tray was represented in a ring. The area inside a ring and the total area of the trays were also measured. Note that different sized rings and trays were used in subsample analysis. These are as follows, trays, small (area of 731 square centimeters), “large1” (area of 1862.40 square centimeters), and large2 (area of 1247 square centimeters). Rings, standard ring (diameter of 7.30 centimeters, subsample area is 41.85 square centimeters) and small ring (diameter of 6.5 centimeters, subsample area is 33.18 square centimeters). A small ring was only used to subsample trays classified as type “large2.”The fraction subsampled was then calculated depending on the size of the tray and ring used for the subsample analysis. If the entire tray was counted and no subsampling was done then the fraction subsampled was assigned a value of 1.0. If subsampling was done the fraction subsampled was calculated as the number of subsamples taken multiplied by the fraction of the tray that a subsample ring area covers (number of subsamples multiplied by (ring area divided by tray area)). Note that this is dependent on the tray and ring used for subsample analysis. Finally, the number of midges in an infall trap accounting for subsampling was calculated as the raw count of midges divided by the fraction subsampled (raw count divided by fraction subsampled).Other metrics such as total insects in meters squared per day, and total insect biomass in grams per meter squared day can be calculated with these data. In addition to the estimated average individual midge masses in grams, For 2008 through 2010 average midge masses were calculated as, Tanytarsus equal to .0001104 grams, Chironomus equal to .0010837 grams. For 2011 average midge masses were, Tanytarsus equal to .000182 grams, Chironomus equal to .001268 grams.