Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Zoology

First Advisor

Whiles, Matt

Second Advisor

Whitledge, Gregory

Abstract

Understanding energy fluxes within and between floodplain water bodies, and between rivers and their floodplains is essential for comprehending the dynamics of modern, altered river systems. Floodplain aquatic invertebrates may move between habitats deliberately (through emergence and dispersal) or through passive transport during flooding. This movement may represent a significant flux of energy and an essential food web subsidy. I assessed the usefulness of the stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen (D and 18O respectively) for identifying the origins and movements of macroinvertebrates in Mississippi River floodplain water bodies. I sampled water and invertebrates from the Mississippi River, intermittent and permanent floodplain wetlands, and tributaries during 2007 and 2008. Results showed consistent relationships between δD and δ18O signatures in invertebrate tissues and their home water bodies. I also investigated whether δD and δ18O could be used as a multivariate "fingerprint" to trace a captured invertebrate back to its environment of origin. Results showed that δD can be a useful tracer of the movement of floodplain invertebrates in some cases, although δ18O is likely not suitable for that purpose.

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