Advisor: Dr. Matt Whiles
Resource subsides from streams in the form of aquatic emerging insects, which vary seasonally and with stream hydrology, have the potential to greatly affect terrestrial food web dynamics. Terrestrial predators feeding on aquatic emerging insects is one trophic pathway in which aquatic habitats subsidize terrestrial consumers with valuable resources such as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), which are primarily synthesized in aquatic habitats and have the potential to affect predator fitness. My research focuses quantifying aquatic insect emergence on the Cache River in southern, Illinois. I will be analyzing the contribution of emerging insects to spider diets using H, O, and C stable isotopes and measuring how their diet affects LC-PUFA concentrations in tissues and immunocompetence.