Woody debris is an ecologically important resource in upland forests and stream ecosystems. Although much is known about invertebrate-woody debris interactions in forests and streams, little information exists for forested wetlands. In this study, invertebrates associated with woody debris in a Southeastern U. S. forested floodplain are described and factors that shape community structure are examined. Woody debris samples were collected during two wet (March 1998 and 1999) and one dry period (August 1998) from a bottomland hardwood wetland along the Coosawhatchie River, South Carolina, USA. During wet period collections, both submersed and floating woody debris were collected. Invertebrate richness, density, and arthropod standing-stock biomass were compared among sampling periods (wet and dry), between floating and submersed wood, and among woody debris decay classes. Most invertebrate richness and arthropod biomass was associated with wood collected during wet periods. However, the non-aquatic rather than aquatic arthropods were the most significant component of the overall community structure. Floating woody debris was a “hot spot” for invertebrate richness and arthropod biomass. Increased invertebrate richness was also associated with well-decayed wood. Invertebrates were classified based on temporal use of woody debris and included perennial residents, seasonal colonizers, and seasonal refugees. Overall findings suggest that woody debris is an important resource for invertebrates, and wood-associated invertebrates (especially non-aquatics) need to be considered when studying the diversity and function of forested wetlands.
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Vol. 21 • No. 1