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Leaf-litter processing in headwater streams of northern Iberian Peninsula: Moderate levels of eutrophication do not explain breakdown rates

AuthorsPérez, Javier; Basaguren, Ana; Descals, Enric ; Larrañaga, Aitor; Pozo, Jesús
Issue Date2013
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
CitationHydrobiologia 718(1): 41-57 (2013)
AbstractAgricultural and urban runoffs result in increased nitrogen and phosphorus inputs in rivers and are the cause of eutrophication. Headwater streams are less frequently affected by these impairments because of the low-to-moderate human activities there. Eutrophication can affect the structure and function of benthic communities in headwater streams, stimulating the activity of heterotrophic microorganisms and macroinvertebrates on a pivotal process such as leaf-litter decomposition. In this study, we monitored the breakdown of alder leaves in six headwater streams that constitute a moderate nutrient enrichment gradient. Breakdown experiments were conducted in autumn-winter and leaf carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, and associated aquatic hyphomycetes and macroinvertebrates were determined. The increase in nutrient availability in the stream water enhanced leaf-litter quality and led to an increase in the hyphomycete assemblage evenness and a reduction of shredder densities. However, contrary to our expectations, dissolved nutrient availability did not explain the breakdown rates. Thus, the absence of a clear effect of nutrient enrichment of stream water on the leaf breakdown rate highlights the difficulties of predicting the response of this ecosystem process to slight levels of eutrophication in headwater streams. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s10750-013-1610-x
issn: 0018-8158
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
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