Terrestrial leaf litter is an important nutrient source in streams.

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  • Leaf Decomposition in Streams

  • Terrestrial leaf litter is an important nutrient source in streams

  • Leaf Decomposition1) Leaves become waterlogged and sink. May lose up to 42% mass to leaching.

    2) Colonization by bacteria and fungi begins almost immediately.

  • 3) Colonized by shredders (eat CPOM). Shredders convert CPOM to FPOM. Grazers eat algae and diatoms (FPOM).

    Leaf DecompositionAmphipodDiatoms

  • 4) Collector-gatherers (eat FPOM).

    5) Collector-filterers (eat FPOM). Bacteria and fungi continue to break down CPOM and FPOM.

    Leaf DecompositionMayflyCaddisflyMidgeBlack fly

  • Predators eat other invertebrates


  • Purpose of this labQuestion 1: Does presence of macroinvertebrates accelerate leaf decomposition?

  • Purpose of this labQuestion 2: Do leaves containing more carbon degrade more slowly? Cellulose and lignin are resistant to decomposition.

  • MethodsPrepare coarse-mesh maple, coarse-mesh oak, fine-mesh maple, and fine-mesh oak bags.Place and secure bags in stream/pond.Remove bags after ~1 month.Rinse macroinvertebrates from leaves and allow leaves to dry.Weigh and estimate leaf material lost.Count macroinvertebrates and sort according to functional feeding groups.

  • Black fly(Collector-filterer)



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