Organic matter dynamics in a savanna transition riparian zone: Input of plant reproductive parts increases leaf breakdown process
The dynamics of coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM) drives the functioning of most low order freshwater ecosystems. We evaluated plant litter input, litterfall, leaf litter breakdown rates, and the aquatic invertebrate community over the course of one year in a stream situation in a transition zone between savannah and Atlantic forest. Total organic matter input (litter fall) was 335 g m-2 yr-1, which was mainly composed of leaves (50%). Higher values are found in the transition from dry to rainy season (September and October), probably in response to water stress. The remaining leaf mass (65% on average) was lowest in May (49%) and highest in August (79%). CPOM productivity in this transition riparian zone is higher than in other savannah systems, but lower than in Atlantic forest. The higher leaf litter breakdown in May was likely accompanied by environmental enrichment due to increase in fruits and flowers (high energy resources). The coefficient of decomposition was classified as fast (k= -0.016) and showed a positive relationship with water flow (increase in physical abrasion). Collected invertebrates were classified as 6% shredders and 12% scrapers. The remaining leaf mass showed a negative relationship with scraper abundance, highlighting the importance of these trophic groups in tropical streams. We can conclude that climate factors (e.g., rainfall) directly affect the input and quality of CPOM and, consequently, leaf decomposition in savanna/Atlantic forest transition zones.
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