Effects of human shoreline development on littoral macroinvertebrates in lowland lakes.

Published online
19 Dec 2007
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Brauns, M. & Garcia, X. F. & Walz, N. & Pusch, M. T.
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The shores of many lakes have been substantially altered by human developments such as erosion control structures or recreational beaches. Such alterations are likely to increase in the future, yet almost nothing is known about their impacts on the littoral macroinvertebrate community. Macroinvertebrates were studied in seven German lowland lakes exhibiting natural shorelines (reference), retaining walls, ripraps and recreational beaches to examine impacts on the eulittoral (0-0.2 m water depth) and infralittoral (0.2-1.2 m water depth) communities associated with the three types of shoreline development. Among sites, eulittoral species richness and abundance of Coleoptera, Gastropoda, Trichoptera, shredders and xylophagous species were lowest on beaches and retaining walls but ripraps did not differ significantly from natural shorelines. Retaining walls and ripraps had no significant impact on the infralittoral macroinvertebrate community. Conversely, beaches had significantly lower infralittoral species richness and abundance of Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera and shredders than natural shorelines. Furthermore, species richness was correlated positively with habitat heterogeneity expressed as number of habitat types. Among lakes, whole-lake littoral macroinvertebrate density increased with increasing proportion of developed shorelines due to increasing abundances of Chironomidae. The remaining macroinvertebrate major groups decreased with increasing proportion of shoreline development. Synthesis and applications. The biological impacts of shoreline development in lowland lakes depend upon the extent to which structural complexity and heterogeneity of littoral habitats are reduced. Hence, we recommend that management programmes focus upon the conservation of littoral habitat complexity and habitat heterogeneity. The biological effects of shoreline development may be assessed efficiently by combining an assessment of the morphological status of lakeshores and information on macroinvertebrate indicator species with a defined response to the loss of their preferred habitats.

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