Macroinvertebrate succession during leaf litter breakdown in a perennial karstic river in Western Brazil

  • Tanaka M
  • Ribas A
  • De Souza A
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Abstract  Leaf litter is a major basal resource to stream ecosystems, but few studies addressed their role in karst systems, mainly in intermittent springs and lakes. Patterns of resource use in perennial rivers are poorly known, although the input of leaf litter strongly influences macroinvertebrate assemblage structure. In this study, we evaluated the structure of macroinvertebrate assemblages along the decomposition of leaf litter in a tropical karst river, using leaf litter cages made of coarse nylon mesh (25 mm) to allow colonization by macroinvertebrates. The experiment was followed weekly for 10 weeks. The assemblages were dominated by snails (90.5% of total fauna), hyalellid amphipods, and larval chironomid midges, with highest abundances in the intermediate stages of the experiment, resulting in a gradient in assemblage structure. The large abundance of snails, which are common in other karst systems, suggest that this group may have an important role in decomposer food webs, facilitating or directly contributing to leaf breakdown.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Decomposition
  • Leaf litter
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Snails
  • Tropical

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