Some studies found no, or weak evidence that dense monotypic cattail (Typha spp.) stands exclude water beetle species from aquatic habitats, or modify aquatic beetle assemblages. Other studies suggest that cattail may reduce the chance of aerial water beetle colonization, and decreases water temperature; negatively affecting these insects. We examined the response of aquatic beetle assemblages to the mowing of cattail (Typha angustifolia L., T. latifolia L.) in a freshwater marsh. Following removal of cattail at the water level in experimental plots, aquatic beetles were sampled both in mowed and intact (control) plots weekly, through a month in the spring of 2008. Aquatic beetles were more abundant in mowed plots. Species richness was the same, but it showed different patterns in mowed and intact plots. Shannon's diversity was similar between treatments, while evenness was lower in mowed plots. 29% of the aquatic beetles showed a strong preference for mowed plots, and 15% preferred the control plots. Water temperature was an important factor, with mowed plots having higher water temperatures because of increased solar radiation. Polarization visibility of the water surface was also a factor, since aerially colonizing (flying) aquatic beetles use horizontally polarized light reflected from the water surface to seek potential locations. Using imaging polarimetry, we showed that mowing strongly enhanced the water-reflected polarized light signal, because it reduced the screening effect of cattail leaves, which made the visual detection of water easier. Our results suggest that cattail mowing is a useful method in aquatic beetle conservation: it increases the chance of aerial colonization due to the enhanced polarization visibility of the water surface, and creates a habitat for more abundant assemblages otherwise excluded by the monodominant dense cattail stands. Thus, sustaining hemi-marsh conditions with vegetated and mowed areas is advisable to maximize overall aquatic beetle diversity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Insect Science