Apr 22, 2003

Detritus processing and microbial dynamics of an aquatic macrophyte and terrestrial leaf in a thermally constant, spring-fed stream

Microbial Ecology
E SchlickeisenA W Groeger


Past studies of organic matter processing in stream ecosystems have focused on the fate of allochthonous terrestrial leaf detritus. In streams with a reduced canopy, submerged macrophytes may provide a significant source of organic matter to the microbial community and higher trophic levels. We compared mass loss patterns and microbial dynamics between a submerged macrophyte, Sagittaria platyphylla, and a deciduous leaf, Populus deltoides. Mass loss rates were higher for the submerged macrophyte, though exponential decay values indicated that both are "fast" decomposers. Bacterial abundance was not significantly different between plant types, but bacterial productivity was significantly higher in Sagittaria. Although fungal biomass was higher overall for Populus, it was not significantly different from that of Sagittaria until day 30. Relative to fungi, bacteria made up 4% and 7% of the peak microbial biomass on Populus and Sagittaria, respectively. Aquatic hyphomycete sporulation was detected only on Populus. These results suggest that in systems where submerged macrophytes are abundant, they can provide a carbon source quantitatively comparable to that of riparian leaf detritus, but that qualitative differences in leaf struct...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Organic Chemicals
Vitreous Carbon
Filamentous fungus
Sagittaria platyphylla
Water Supply

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