Allochthonous vs. autochthonous energy resources for aquatic insects in cloud forest streams, Veracruz, Mexico

Pavel García, Rodolfo Novelo-Gutiérrez, Gabriela Vázquez, Alonso Ramírez


Background. Recent tropical studies question the assumption that forested headwater streams rely on allochthonous resources as their main energy source, suggesting that autochthonous resources are more important. Goals. Here, we characterized the energy base, as gut contents, of cloud forest streams with contrasting riparian vegetation cover in Veracruz, Mexico, during dry, rainy and “nortes” (e.g., less dry and cold) seasons. Methods. Two first-order streams were selected for the study - one flowing through forest and the other through pasture with sparse riparian vegetation. Gut content analyses showed aquatic insect diets composed of diatoms, green algae, fungi, plant tissue, and amorphous detritus. Results. The forest stream had taxa with gut contents composed of 31 to 99% allochthonous material, while the pasture stream reached a maximum of 82% during “nortes”. Diatoms accounted for most of the autochthonous material in guts, especially in the pasture stream during the dry season. A significant proportion of ingested allochthonous material was fungi, mainly in the forest stream during the rainy season. Conclusions. Overall, our study supports the view that in forested tropical streams autochthonous material is an important food resource. However, allochthonous material was found to be an important food item, even in pasture streams with limited riparian cover.

Palabras clave

Allochthonous and autochthonous material; cloud forest; food-webs; guts contents; Neotropical streams; trophic basis

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