Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Connecting the litterfall temporal dynamics and processing of coarse particulate organic matter in a tropical stream

Aurea Luiza Lemes da Silva A E , Leonardo Kleba Lisboa B , Ana Emília Siegloch C , Mauricio Mello Petrucio D and José Francisco Gonçalves Júnior A

A Laboratório de Limnologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade de Brasília, DF, CEP 70910-900, Brazil.

B Laboratório de Ecologia de Rios e Córregos, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, CEP 20550-013, Brazil.

C Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ambiente e Saúde, Universidade do Planalto Catarinense, Campus Lages, Lages-SC, CEP 88509-900, Brazil.

D Laboratório de Ecologia de Águas Continentais, Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis-SC, CEP 88040-900, Brazil.

E Corresponding author. Email: aurealuizalemes@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF16032
Submitted: 29 January 2016  Accepted: 23 August 2016   Published online: 4 October 2016

Abstract

We collected leaf litter monthly and analysed how the temporal dynamics of litterfall affect the breakdown rates, microbial and fungal biomass and aquatic invertebrate community in a tropical stream in southern Brazil. The results showed that total annual litterfall varied over time and was negatively associated with rainfall. Litter fell mostly in the spring months, but other peaks occurred throughout the year. In all, 122 tree species were identified; however, only seven represented >70% of the total of leaf litter vertical input. Leaf decomposition was higher in February and April (wet, warm months) than during the wet season. Fungal biomass was high in decomposing leaves (460 ± 28 μg g–1 of ash-free dry mass, AFDM), with a maximum of 655 μg g–1 AFDM in July. Microbial biomass in decomposing leaves was lower (326 ± 27 nmol g–1 AFDM), with a maximum of 504 nmol g–1 AFDM in October. Monthly variability in the fungal and microbial biomass and aquatic invertebrate colonisation were associated with litter quality. The results suggested that litterfall is the result of regional environmental factors and characteristics of the riparian vegetation and that modifications in the quality, quantity and timing of the delivery of litter input to the stream affect activity in the decomposer community, which then affects monthly litter-breakdown rates.


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