Leaf-litter decomposition in headwater stream: a comparation on the process among four climatic regions



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Pozo, Jesús and Casas, Jesús and Menéndez, Margarita and Mollá, Salvador and Arostegui, Inmaculada and Basaguren, Ana and Casado, Carmen and Descals, Enrique and García Avilés, Javier and González, José M. and Larrañaga, Aitor and López, Enrique and Lusi, Miriam and Moya, Óscar and Pérez, Javier and Riera, Tecla and Roblas, Neftalí and Salinas, María Jacoba (2011) Leaf-litter decomposition in headwater stream: a comparation on the process among four climatic regions. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 30 (4). pp. 935-950. ISSN 1937-237X

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Official URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1899/10-153.1?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents


The main purpose of our work was to elucidate factors responsible for the geographical differences in leaf-litter decomposition rates in Spanish oligotrophic headwater streams. Decomposition experiments with alder (Alnus glutinosa) leaf litter were carried out in 22 headwater streams in 4 different climatic regions across the Iberian Peninsula (Cornisa Canta´brica, Cordillera Litoral Catalana, Sierra de Guadarrama, and Sierra Nevada). Streams that were similar in size, flowed mainly over siliceous substrate in catchments with scarce human settlements and activities, and fell within a range of low nutrient concentrations were chosen in each region. Breakdown rates were regionally variable and were low (0.109–0.198% ash-free dry mass [AFDM]/degree day [dd]) in the Cornisa Canta´brica, the most mesic and Atlantic region, and high (0.302–0.639% AFDM/dd) in Sierra de Guadarrama, one of the coldest and most inland areas. Temperature was not the determining factor affecting differences in breakdown rates among regions, and breakdown rates were not related to concentrations of dissolved nutrients. However, microbial reproductive activity (sporulation rates) was significantly correlated with dissolved P concentration. Breakdown rates were explained better by presence and feeding activities of detritivores than by decomposer activity. Incorporation of breakdown rates in assessment schemes of stream ecological status will be difficult because leaf processing does not respond unequivocally to environmental factors when climatic regions are considered. Thus, regional adjustments of baseline standards in reference conditions will be required.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Leaf litter, decomposition, headwater streams, invertebrates, fungi, eutrophication, Spain
Subjects:Medical sciences > Biology > Ecology
ID Code:56469
Deposited On:23 Jul 2019 16:00
Last Modified:23 Jul 2019 16:00

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