Adult insects were collected using emergence traps from salt water pools, brackish water pools and vegetated marsh in the Little River Estuary, Wells, Maine, USA. Samples were continuously taken once every week from June through October of 2001 to examine the community composition, as well as the spatial and temporal patterns of insect emergence from a salt marsh system. Chironomus sp. and Tanytarsus spp. (Diptera: Chironomidae) chironomids were the most abundant insects emerging, the former representing 87% of all insects collected from brackish pools and the latter 55–80% of all insects collected from salt water pools and the vegetated marsh, respectively. Insect emergence was higher from brackish pools (1450 ± 172 individuals·m−2·y−1) and vegetated marsh sites (1350 ± 851 individuals·m−2·y−1), but not significantly different from salt water pools (289 ± 126 individuals·m−2·y−1). Emergence of some species was restricted to certain marsh areas resulting in non-significant trends in patterns of community composition, diversity and evenness. More species (n = 15) were collected from the vegetated marsh compared to brackish (n = 13) and salt water pools (n = 11), while diversity and evenness were greater in salt water pools (H′ = 1.56 ± 0.4, 0.5 ± 0.2) compared to the vegetated marsh (H′ = 1.18 ± 0.8, 0.3 ± 0.2) and brackish pools (H′ = 0.72 ± 0.01, 0.2 ± 0.02). Temporal patterns of the two most abundant chironomids revealed increased numbers emerging in June (Tanytarsus spp. and Chironomus sp.) and again in September (Chironomus sp.). This suggests the importance of salt marsh insects as a food source to fish and birds, particularly during breeding and nesting seasons in the spring (June) or migratory season in the fall (September).
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Vol. 153 • No. 2