Persistence of aquatic insects across managed landscapes: effects of landscape permeability on re-colonization and population recovery

N.G. Galic, G.M. Hengeveld, P.J. van den Brink, A. Schmolke, P. Thorbek, E. Bruns, J.M. Baveco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Human practices in managed landscapes may often adversely affect aquatic biota, such as aquatic insects. Dispersal is often the limiting factor for successful re-colonization and recovery of stressed habitats. Therefore, in this study, we evaluated the effects of landscape permeability, assuming a combination of riparian vegetation (edge permeability) and other vegetation (landscape matrix permeability), and distance between waterbodies on the colonization and recovery potential of weakly flying insects. For this purpose, we developed two models, a movement and a population model of the non-biting midge, Chironomus riparius, an aquatic insect with weak flying abilities. With the movement model we predicted the outcome of dispersal in a landscape with several linear water bodies (ditches) under different assumptions regarding landscape-dependent movement. Output from the movement model constituted the probabilities of encountering another ditch and of staying in the natal ditch or perishing in the landscape matrix, and was used in the second model. With this individual-based model of midge populations, we assessed the implications for population persistence and for recovery potential after an extreme stress event. We showed that a combination of landscape attributes from the movement model determines the fate of dispersing individuals and, once extrapolated to the population level, has a big impact on the persistence and recovery of populations. Population persistence benefited from low edge permeability as it reduced the dispersal mortality which was the main factor determining population persistence and viability. However, population recovery benefited from higher edge permeability, but this was conditional on the low effective distance that ensured fewer losses in the landscape matrix. We discuss these findings with respect to possible landscape management scenarios
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54584
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • midge chironomus-riparius
  • fresh-water biodiversity
  • correlated random-walks
  • diptera-chironomidae
  • dispersal strategies
  • patchy landscapes
  • food availability
  • modeling approach
  • spatial dynamics
  • stream insects


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