Wetland habitats continue to be lost at a unsettling rate, especially freshwater emergent wetlands that are isolated geographically. These are the predominant wetlands found in arid and semi-arid environments, where they serve as foci of regional biodiversity. This is especially true of the playa wetlands of the Southern High Plains of Texas, USA. The factors that determine and maintain biotic diversity in these wetlands are understood poorly. Consequently, this study examined the effect of island biogeographic and landscape features on the diversity of aquatic macroinvertebrates in playa wetlands. Macroinvertebrates were collected from playas three times during the spring and summer of 1994 and categorized as resident or transient taxa based on life history strategies. Diversity was estimated using taxonomic richness (richness) and Fisher's log-series alpha (α). Surrounding land-use practices influenced resident richness, whereas playa surface area affected resident and transient richness, as well as resident α. However, relationships differed among sampling dates. Regression analyses suggested that transient richness and α were influenced more by insular characteristics than by landscape features. The converse was true for resident richness and α. Therefore, both insular and landscape characteristics affected the diversity of macroinvertebrates in playa wetlands, but impacts were dependent on life-history strategy and time since inundation (i.e., sampling date). Consequently, conservation and management efforts targeting macroinvertebrates in playa wetlands will need to focus on the wetlands and characteristics of adjacent watershed features.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1