A sucker for ecosystem engineers

Sonoran suckers, like other ecosystem engineers like beavers or salmon, substantially influence the spatial and temporal distribution of their environment’s resources. These fish create divots in soft sediments during their nightly feeding rounds in shallow waters far from where they seek refuge during the day. This feeding and these divots contribute heavily to shaping patterns of aquatic insects and suspended sediment in the Gila River, establishing the suckers as important ecosystem engineers in the river.

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To bugs in streams, fine sediment is not so fine

Clearing land for agriculture often leads to decreased flow velocities and in increase in fine sediment additions in nearby streams. While many stream bugs rely on small fine sediments, too much of it can detrimentally affect them. Changes to flow velocities and inputs of fine sediment in affected streams are not always equal in magnitude, so an experiment was run to see the responses of aquatic macroinvertebrates to various combinations of flow and sediment conditions. The scientists found fine sediments negatively impacted almost all stream bugs and that low flows exacerbated the problem.

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