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Changes in the chemical composition of alder, poplar and willow leaves during decomposition in a river

Abstract : (1) As there was a paucity of information on the aquatic decomposition of leaves of willow (Salix alba), poplar (Populus gr. nigra) and alder (Alnus glutinosa), the net-bag technique was used to study chemical changes in the leaves over a period of six months in the Garonne (France). (2) The disappearance rates of foliar organic matter were about similar for the three species (k = 0.0065 day-l for alder, k = 0.0054 day-l for poplar and k = 0.0050 day-l for willow). Changes in carbon amount were comparable to those of organic matter. Nitrogen and organic phosphorus accumulated during the first months of decomposition. The C/N ratios of foliar matter changed in the same way in the three species, falling steeply for the first month, then levelling off. Amounts of sugar disappeared very rapidly, particularly for alder and willow. Cellulose concentrations were constant throughout the whole decomposition process whilst an increase in the amounts of lignin was observed during the first months; however the latter could be due to an interference by microbial compounds. (3) The changes of some constituents, such as carbon, sugars and cellulose, were described with exponential or multiexponential models. Despite the very different initial ratios of C/N and lignin/N, these changes associated with leaf decomposition were similar for the three species.
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Eric Chauvet. Changes in the chemical composition of alder, poplar and willow leaves during decomposition in a river. Hydrobiologia, Springer, 1987, vol. 148 (n° 1), pp. 35-44. ⟨10.1007/BF00018164⟩. ⟨hal-01308110⟩

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