LTREB Lake Mývatn Midge Infall 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. At the naturally productive Lake Mývatn, Iceland we measured relative midge density on land using passive aerial infall traps during the summers 2008-2011. These traps, a cup with a small amount of lethal preservative, were placed along transects perpendicular to the lake edge and extending ~150-500 m into the shoreline ecosystem and were sampled approximately weekly from May-August. The measurements of midge relative abundance over land were then used to develop a local maximum decay function model to predict proportional midge deposition with distance from the lake (Dreyer et al. <em>in press</em>). In general, peak midge deposition occurrs 20-25 m inland and 70% of midges are deposited within 100 m of shore.
<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 Infall Measurement We deployed eleven transects of passive, lethal aerial infall traps arrayed at variable distances from Lake Mývatn to estimate relative midge abundance on shore during the summers 2008-2011. Each transect was perpendicular to the lake edge, with traps located at approximately 5, 50, 150, and 500 m (where possible) from shore for a total of 31 traps around the lake. Sampling locations were recorded using GPS and precise distances from the lake were calculated within a geographic information system. Traps consisted of a single 1000 mL clear plastic cup (0.0095 m<sup>2</sup> opening) affixed 1 m above the ground on a stake and filled with 300-500 mL of a 1:1 mixture of water and ethylene glycol and a trace amount of unscented detergent to capture, kill, and preserve insects landing on the surface of the liquid (Gratton et al. 2008, Dreyer et al. 2012). Midges and other insects were emptied from the traps weekly and the traps were reset immediately, thus collections span the entirety of each summer. 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.