Figure 2. Seston refers to is the organisms (bioseston) and non-living matter (abioseston or tripton) swimming or floating in a water body. Bioseston commonly refers to plankton (shown above, as viewed under a microscope at 300 times) and abioseston refers to detritus in the river.
[Photo: NOAA, used with permission]
The goal of this study is to examine the effects of filter-feeders on seston availability in riffles of the Susquehanna River. Conversely, we are also determining if seston availability affects density of filter feeders present at different locations along the riffle.
In summer 2012, we measured concentrations of suspended organic matter in six size fractions (0.7-1000 um) from water samples collected at 400-m intervals along a 1-mile long riffle in the West Branch Susquehanna River near Watsontown, PA. In addition, three invertebrate samples were collected at each site with a kick-net and were examined to see if the distribution of filter feeders along the riffle reflects locations with higher or lower seston amounts.
The filter-feeder community was composed of dipterans, mayflies, and caddisflies. Total seston concentrations ranged from 1.28 mg/L to 2.2 mg/L throughout the riffle. Between 88 and 95% of seston was composed of the smallest size fraction (0.7-25 um).
Our preliminary results showed that 87% of invertebrates at the upstream end of the riffle were filter feeders, 86% of which were caddisflies. Filter feeders comprised 77% of the benthic invertebrate community at the downstream end of the riffle, with caddisflies making up 74% of the filter feeders.
Seston concentration did not decline along the riffle as predicted, which may be the result of rapid uptake of seston by filter feeders or turnover of seston pools throughout the riffle.