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Fungi are involved in the effects of litter mixtures on consumption by shredders

Abstract : 1. Decomposition of litter mixtures in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems often shows non- additive diversity effects on decomposition rate, generally interpreted in streams as a result of the feeding activity of macroinvertebrates. The extent to which fungal assemblages on mixed litter may influence consumption by macroinvertebrates remains unknown. 2. We assessed the effect of litter mixing on all possible three-species combinations drawn from four tree species (Alnus glutinosa, Betula pendula, Juglans regia and Quercus robur) on both fungal assemblages and the rate of litter consumption by a common shredder, Gammarus fossarum. After a 9-week inoculation in a stream, batches of leaf discs were taken from all leaf species within litter mixture combinations. Ergosterol, an indicator of fungal biomass, and the composition of fungal assemblages, assessed from the conidia released, were determined, and incubated litter offered to G. fossarum in a laboratory-feeding experiment. 3. Mixing leaf litter species enhanced both the Simpson's index of the fungal assemblage and the consumption of litter by G. fossarum, but had no clear effect on mycelial biomass. Specifically, consumption rates of J. regia were consistently higher for mixed-species litter packs than for single-species litter. In contrast, the consumption rates of B. pendula were not affected by litter mixing, because of the occurrence of both positive and negative litter-mixing effects in different litter species combinations that counteracted each other. 4. In some litter combinations, the greater development of some fungal species (e.g. Clavariopsis aquatica) as shown by higher sporulation rates coincided with increased leaf consumption, which may have resulted from feeding preferences by G. fossarum for these fungi. 5. Where litter mixture effects on decomposition rate are mediated via shredder feeding, this could be due to indirect effects of the fungal assemblage.
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Jérémy Jabiol, Eric Chauvet. Fungi are involved in the effects of litter mixtures on consumption by shredders. Freshwater Biology, Wiley, 2012, vol. 57, pp. 1667-1677. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-2427.2012.02829.x⟩. ⟨hal-00956635⟩

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