Caught between a Rock and a Hard Mineral Encrustation: Long-Lived Aquatic Insects Accumulate Calcium Carbonate Deposits in a Montane Desert Stream

Eric K. Moody, Jessica R. Corman, Michael T. Bogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aquatic ecosystems overlying regions of limestone bedrock can feature active deposition of calcium carbonate in the form of travertine or tufa. Although most travertine deposits form a cement-like layer on stream substrates, mineral deposits can also form on benthic invertebrates. However, little is known about which taxa may be prone to calcium carbonate encrustation and which life history traits may make taxa more susceptible to becoming encrusted. Here we report the presence of calcium carbonate deposits on live insects collected from a montane stream in the Madrean Sky Islands (Huachuca Mountains) of Arizona between 2011 and 2013. Life history differences are examined between taxa with and without travertine deposits. Thirteen genera of aquatic insects were found with calcium carbonate deposits on the exoskeleton as well as 22 other genera, also encountered in the study stream, that have not previously been found with such deposits. Taxa with calcium carbonate encrustation had significantly longer-lived aquatic stages than those without encrustation. Furthermore, encrustation presence did not differ among aerial dispersal modes. These results suggest that the extent of calcium carbonate deposition on aquatic insects is primarily related to the length of time they are in the stream. Since mineral encrustation may reduce predation pressure and mobility, changes in patterns of travertine formation in these systems may have profound effects on ecological interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalWestern North American Naturalist
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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