Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 527–538 | Cite as

Fine sediment on leaves: shredder removal of sediment does not enhance fungal colonisation

  • Isis Sanpera-Calbet
  • Eric Chauvet
  • John S. Richardson
Research Article


Inorganic fine sediments are easily carried into streams and rivers from disturbed land. These sediments can affect the stream biota, including detritivorous invertebrates (shredders) and impair ecosystem functions, such as leaf litter decomposition. We hypothesized that fine sediment (kaolin) deposited on leaves would reduce or suppress fungal development, reducing decomposition rates of leaves. Moreover, we predicted that shredders would act as ecosystem engineers by perturbing sediment deposition, reducing its impact on decomposition and fungi. We used a fully crossed experimental design of sediment addition (control, 400 mg L−1) and shredders (none, Gammarus, Potamophylax) in laboratory aquaria. Leaf mass loss, suspended solids, microbial respiration, fungal biomass and spore production were measured. Sediment addition had no significant effects on the leaf mass remaining nor on shredders’ consumption rates. However, sediment slightly reduced fungal assemblage richness and the sporulation rate of three fungal species. The presence of shredders substantially increased the resuspension of fine sediments (>300%), resulting in higher suspended loads. However, the action of shredders did not have a significant effect on fungal biomass nor on leaf mass loss. Even if shredders did not enhance fungal colonisation, they affected the settlement of fine sediment, serving as allogenic engineers. Our study suggests that concentrations of fine sediment of 400 mg L−1 with short exposure times (192 h) can have some effect on leaf decomposition.


Fine sediments Litter breakdown Aquatic hyphomycetes Detritivorous invertebrates Stream disturbance 



We are grateful to D. Lambrigot and S. Lamothe for their help with the field work and with the laboratory analyses, and to M.-H. O’Donoghue for her help with the bibliographic research. We are indebted to Mr. Dubillot who provided us the sediment. We thank E. Mas and three anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was made possible thanks to a grant from the University Paul Sabatier Toulouse 3 to JR as a sabbatical visitor, and funding for the InBioProcess project of the ANR Biodiversity programme (ANR-06-BDIV-007).


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isis Sanpera-Calbet
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Eric Chauvet
    • 1
    • 2
  • John S. Richardson
    • 3
  1. 1.Université de Toulouse, UPS, INPT, EcoLab, Université Paul SabatierToulouseFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, EcoLabToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelona, CataloniaSpain

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