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Annu Rev Entomol. 1996;41:115-39.

The role of macroinvertebrates in stream ecosystem function.

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Department of Entomology and Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA.


This review focuses on some of the roles of macroinvertebrate functional groups, i.e. grazers, shredders, gatherers, filterers, and predators, in stream-ecosystem processes. Many stream-dwelling insects exploit the physical characteristics of streams to obtain their foods. As consumers at intermediate trophic levels, macroinvertebrates are influenced by both bottom-up and top-down forces in streams and serve as the conduits by which these effects are propagated. Macroinvertebrates can have can important influence on nutrient cycles, primary productivity, decomposition, and translocation of materials. Interactions among macroinvertebrates and their food resources vary among functional groups. Macroinvertebrates constitute an important source of food for numerous fish, and unless outside energy subsidies are greater than in-stream food resources for fish, effective fisheries management must account for fish-invertebrate linkages and macroinvertebrate linkages with resources and habitats. Macroinvertebrates also serve as valuable indicators of stream degradation. The many roles performed by stream-dwelling macroinvertebrates underscore the importance of their conservation.

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