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

Plant litter diversity affects invertebrate shredder activity and the quality of fine particulate organic matter in streams

Isabel Fernandes A , Sofia Duarte A , Fernanda Cássio A and Cláudia Pascoal A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology, Department of Biology, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, PT-4710-057 Braga, Portugal.

B Corresponding author. Email: cpascoal@bio.uminho.pt

Marine and Freshwater Research 66(5) 449-458 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF14089
Submitted: 1 April 2014  Accepted: 16 July 2014   Published: 6 January 2015

Abstract

There is evidence that loss of riparian plant diversity alters the availability and quality of resources in streams, but little is known about how such effects change with time after loss of diversity. We used a microcosm approach with leaves of alder, oak and eucalypt previously colonised by microbes in a mixed forest stream to test how loss of litter diversity and time (2 and 6 months after loss of diversity) affect leaf consumption by invertebrate shredders, the elemental composition of shredder tissues, and the quality of fine particulate organic matter (FPOM). The number and identity of leaf species affected leaf consumption and FPOM production by shredders. Effects of leaf species diversity were positive and became more frequent with time after loss of diversity. Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) composition of invertebrate tissues changed with the leaf identity. FPOM quality (C : N ratio) was positively correlated with leaf quality. Leaf consumption by the animals decreased linearly with the increase in C : N imbalance between leaf litter and invertebrate tissues. Our results suggest that changes in plant litter diversity affect the activity of shredders (leaf consumption and FPOM production), and the quality of food resources (FPOM and shredders) to higher trophic levels in streams; such effects are likely to become stronger with time after loss of plant diversity.


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