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Conservation programs often aim to protect the abundance of individual species and biodiversity simultaneously. We quantified relations between amphipod densities and aquatic macrophyte (large plants and algae) diversity to test a hypothesis that biodiversity can support high abundance of a single taxonomic group. Amphipods (Gammarus lacustris and Hyalella azteca) are key forage for waterfowl and are declining in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. We sampled a large gradient of amphipod densities (0–7050 amphipods/m3) in 49 semi-permanent wetlands, and 50% of the study wetlands had high amphipod densities (> 500 amphipods/m3). Generalized linear models revealed G. lacustris and H. azteca densities increased exponentially with macrophyte diversity indices. Further, H. azteca densities were greatest at moderate levels of submersed vegetation biomass. Community analyses showed both amphipod species were positively associated with diverse macrophyte assemblages and negatively associated with high coverage of cattails (Typha spp.), a taxon that creates monotypic stands, as well as bladderwort (Utricularia spp.), a carnivorous plant. Our results indicate that amphipods could be used as an umbrella species for protecting diverse macrophyte communities in semi-permanent and permanent wetlands of North America’s Prairie Pothole Region.


Published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation under a Creative Commons Attribution v4.0 International licence at

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