LTREB Kalfastrond Peninsula Experiment (KAL) Midge Counts at Lake Myvatn 2008-2011
A cross ecosystem resource blocking experiment was conducted on the Kalfastrond peninsula, known as the KAL experiment or KAL midge blocking experiment, at Lake Myvatn to determine the influence of an aquatic resource on a terrestrial food web over time. A manipulative field experiment was used in conjunction with a stable isotope analysis to examine changes in terrestrial arthropod food webs in response to the midge subsidy. Cages were established at 2 by 2 meter plots in 6 blocks spread across the site. Each block included 3 treatment levels, an open control plot, a full exclusion cage and a partial exclusion cage, for a total of 18 experimental plots. Midge exclusion cages were designed to prevent midges from entering plots with such cages. Control open pit midge cages were set as a control which allowed complete access to all arthropods. Partial midge exclusion cages were designed and used to examine any effects of cages themselves on terrestrial responses while minimally affecting midge inputs into the plots and arthropod movement. All cages were set at the middle to end of May to the beginning of August in each year, the period corresponding to the active growing season of plants and the flight activity of midges at this site. Midge activity was measured in all plots to document changes in midge abundance over the course of a season and between years and to assess the degree to which cages excluded midges.Midge abundance in the plots was continuously measured using passive aerial infall traps. Midges from infall traps were counted and identified to morphospecies, where the small species is Tanytarsus gracilentus and the large species is Chironomus islandicus. Some arthropods were only identified to the family level Simuliidae, and other arthropods were lumped in a category named others. If the infall trap contained hundreds to thousands of a particular midge species a subsample for each species was performed to estimate the number of midges trapped. These data are the results of the midge counts from the infall traps.
I. Field MethodsThe site where this manipulative field experiment was conducted on the Kalfastrond peninsula at Lake Myvatn is approximately 150 meters long and 75 meters wide. The vegetation consists of grasses Deschampsia spp., Poa spp., and Agrostis spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), and forbs (Ranunculus acris, Geum rivale,and Potentilla palustris). The experimental midge exclusions occurred from the middle or end of May to the beginning of August in each year, the period corresponding to the active growing season of plants and the flight activity of midges at this site. 2 by 2 meter plots were established in 6 blocks spread across the site. Each block included 3 treatment levels, an open control plot, a full exclusion cage and a partial exclusion cage, for a total of 18 experimental plots. Control plots were open to allow complete access to all arthropods. Experimental midge exclusion cages were 1 meter high and constructed from white PVC tubing affixed to rebar posts on each corner of the plot, Plate 1. Full exclusion cages were entirely covered with white polyester netting, 200 holes per square inch, Barre Army Navy Store, Barre VT, USA, to prevent midges from entering the plot. The mesh netting completely enclosed the 2 by 2 by 1 meter frame to prevent flying insects from entering, however the mesh was not secured to the ground in order to allow non flying,ground crawling, arthropods to freely enter and exit the cages. Partial exclusion cages had one 0.5 meter strip of mesh stretched around the outside of the frame and another 0.75 meter strip draped over the top. Partial cages were designed to examine any effects of cages themselves on terrestrial responses while minimally affecting midge inputs into the plots and arthropod movement.The partial exclusion treatment was discontinued in 2011. Each plot contains a pitfall and an infall trap that are continuously sampled during the summer, while the cages are up. Vacuum samples were taken from the plots about once per month in 2008 through 2010 and only once per summer for subsequent summers.Midge activity was measured in all plots to document changes in midge abundance over the course of a season and between years and to assess the degree to which cages excluded midges. Midge abundance in the plots was continuously measured using passive aerial infall traps consisting of a 1000 milliliter clear plastic cup, 95 square centimeter opening, attached to a post 0.5 meters high and filled with 250 milliliters of a 1 to 1 ethylene glycol to water solution and a small amount of unscented detergent to capture and kill insects that alighted upon the surface. Infall traps were emptied about every 10 days.II. AnalysisMidges were counted and identified to morphospecies, small and large. The midge (Diptera,Chrionomidae) assemblage at Myvatn 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.