Sep 23, 2009

Nutrient enrichment alters storage and fluxes of detritus in a headwater stream ecosystem

Jonathan P BensteadCynthia J Tant


Responses of detrital pathways to nutrients may differ fundamentally from pathways involving living plants: basal carbon resources can potentially decrease rather than increase with nutrient enrichment. Despite the potential for nutrients to accelerate heterotrophic processes and fluxes of detritus, few studies have examined detritus-nutrient dynamics at whole-ecosystem scales. We quantified organic matter (OM) budgets over three consecutive years in two detritus-based Appalachian (U.S.A.) streams. After the first year, we began enriching one stream with low-level nitrogen and phosphorus inputs. Subsequent effects of nutrients on outputs of different OM compartments were determined using randomized intervention analysis. Nutrient addition did not affect dissolved or coarse particulate OM export but had dramatic effects on fine particulate OM (FPOM) export at all discharges relative to the reference stream. After two years of enrichment, FPOM export was 340% higher in the treatment stream but had decreased by 36% in the reference stream relative to pretreatment export. Ecosystem respiration, the dominant carbon output in these systems, also increased in the treatment stream relative to the reference, but these changes were small...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Biochemical Pathway
Cell Respiration
Phosphate Measurement
Red Phosphorus
Phosphorus Measurement
Heterotrophic Processes
Plant Development
Body Fluid Discharge

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