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Effects of experimental warming, litter species, and presence of macroinvertebrates on litter decomposition and associated decomposers in a temperate mountain stream

Abstract : Small woodland streams make the majority of water courses in most watersheds. Litter decomposition is a key ecosystem process in these shaded streams, and its response to warming can have profound consequences for food webs and the carbon (C) cycle. However, these responses can be modulated by litter identity and the structure of the detrital food web. Here we report on a manipulative study aiming at evaluating the effects of warming (+2.8 °C), litter identity (chestnut (Castanea sativa) or oak (Quercus robur) litter), and the structure of the detrital food web (presence or absence of macroinvertebrates) on litter decomposition and decomposers in a small, temperate woodland stream. Warming significantly stimulated overall (microbial- + macroinvertebrate-driven) decomposition of oak and microbial-driven decomposition of chestnut. The similar shredder densities at elevated and ambient temperatures suggest that stimulated overall decomposition of oak resulted from increased activity of macroinvertebrate individuals. Stimulated microbial-driven decomposition of chestnut resulted from higher fungal activity with warming. Stimulation of litter decomposition by warming can lead to increases in the amount of C returned to the atmosphere and to a faster disappearance of litter from the benthos, with consequences to the C cycle and aquatic food webs.
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Verónica Ferreira, Eric Chauvet, Cristina Canhoto. Effects of experimental warming, litter species, and presence of macroinvertebrates on litter decomposition and associated decomposers in a temperate mountain stream. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, NRC Research Press, 2014, vol. 72 (n° 2), pp. 206-216. ⟨10.1139/CJFAS-2014-0119⟩. ⟨hal-01142859⟩

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