, Volume 568, Issue 1, pp 493–498 | Cite as

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

  • Marcel O. Tanaka
  • Augusto C. A. Ribas
  • Andréa L. T. de Souza
Short Research Note


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.


decomposition leaf litter macroinvertebrates snails tropical 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

supp.pdf (72 kb)
Supplementary material


  1. Barquin J. and Death R. G. (2004). Patterns of invertebrate diversity in streams and freshwater springs in Northern Spain. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 161: 329–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benstead J. P. (1996). Macroinvertebrates and the processing of leaf litter in a tropical stream. Biotropica 28: 367–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Casas J. J. and Gessner M. O. (1999). Leaf litter breakdown in a Mediterranean stream characterised by travertine precipitation. Freshwater Biology 41: 781–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chergui H. and Pattée E. (1991). An experimental study of the breakdown of submerged leaves by hyphomycetes and invertebrates in Morocco. Freshwater Biology 26: 97–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clarke K. R. (1993). Non-parametric multivariate analysis of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology 18: 117–143Google Scholar
  6. Cummins K. W., Merritt R. W. and Andrade P. C. N. (2005). The use of invertebrate functional groups to characterize ecosystem attributes in selected streams and rivers in south Brazil. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 40: 69–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dias J. (2000). A região cárstica de Bonito, MS: uma proposta de zoneamento geoecológico a partir de unidades de paisagem. Ensaios e Ciência 4: 9–43Google Scholar
  8. Dillon R. (2000). The Ecology of Freshwater Molluscs. Cambrige University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Dudgeon D. and Yipp M. (1985). The diets of Hong Kong freshwater gastropods. In: Morton, B. and Dudgeon, D. (eds) Proceedings of Second International Workshop on the Malacofauna of Hong Kong and Southern China, pp 491–509. Hong Kong University Press, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  10. Estebenet A. L. (1995). Food and feeding in Pomacea canaliculata (Gastropoda: Ampullariidae). Veliger 38: 277–283Google Scholar
  11. Gessner M. O. and Dobson M. (1993). Colonisation of fresh and dried leaf litter by lotic macroinvertebrates. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 127: 141–149Google Scholar
  12. Gessner M. O., Chauvet E. and Dobson M. (1999). A perspective on leaf litter breakdown in streams. Oikos 85: 377–384Google Scholar
  13. Habdija I., Lajtner J. and Belinic I. (1995). The contribution of gastropod biomass in macrobenthic communities of a karstic river. Internationale Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie 80: 103–110Google Scholar
  14. Hanlon R. (1981). The influence of different species of leaf litter on the growth and food preference of the prosobranch mollusk Potamopyrgus jenkinsi. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 91: 463–474Google Scholar
  15. Heard S. B. and Buchanan C. K. (2004). Grazer-collector facilitation hypothesis supported by laboratory but not field experiments. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61: 887–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Heller J. and Abotbol A. (1997). Litter shredding in a desert oasis by the snail Melanopsis praemorsa. Hydrobiologia 344: 65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wallace B. (2002). Ecosystem linkages between southern Appalachian headwater streams and their banks: leaf litter breakdown and invertebrate assemblages. Ecosystems 5: 80–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kelley R. H. and Jack J. D. (2002). Leaf litter decomposition in an ephemeral karst lake (Chaney Lake, Kentucky, U.S.A.). Hydrobiologia 482: 41–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Magurran A. E. (1988). Ecological Diversity and its Measurement. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  20. Ribas, A. C. A., M. O. Tanaka & A. L. T. Souza. An evaluation of macrofaunal effects on leaf litter breakdown rates in aquatic and terrestrial habitats: a case study in the tropics. Austral Ecology (in press)Google Scholar
  21. Rosemond A. D., Pringle C. M. and Ramírez A. (1998). Macroconsumer effects on insect detritivores and detritus processing in a tropical stream. Freshwater Biology 39: 515–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rowe J. M., Meegan S. K., Engstrom E. S., Perry S. A. and William B. P. (1996). Comparison of leaf processing under different temperature regimes in three headwaters streams. Freshwater Biology 36: 277–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Smith H., Wood P. J. and Gunn J. (2003). The influence of habitat structure and flow permanence on invertebrate communities in karst spring systems. Hydrobiologia 510: 53–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stockley R. A., Oxford G. S. and Ormond R. F. G. (1998). Do invertebrates matter? Detrital processing in the River Swale-Ouse. The Science of the Total Environment 210/211: 427–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Vannote R. L., Minshall G. W., Cummins K. W., Sedell J. R. and Cushing C. E. (1980). The river continuum concept. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 37: 130–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Vivas S. and Casas J. J. (2002). Macroinvertebrates rates colonizing leaf litter of contrasting quality in a travertine Mediterranean stream. Archive fur Hydrobiologie 154: 225–238Google Scholar
  27. Wallace J. B., Eggert S. L., Meyer J. L. and Webster J. R. (1997). Multiple trophic levels of a forest stream linked to terrestrial litter inputs. Science 277: 102–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Webster J. R. and Benfield E. F. (1986). Vascular plant breakdown in freshwater ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 17: 567–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Whiles M. R. and Wallace J. B. (1997). Leaf litter decomposition and macroinvertebrate communities in headwater streams draining pine and hardwood catchments. Hydrobiologia 353: 107–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcel O. Tanaka
    • 1
    • 3
  • Augusto C. A. Ribas
    • 2
  • Andréa L. T. de Souza
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, CCBS, CP 549Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, CCBS, CP 549Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de HidrobiologiaUniversidade Federal de São Carlos, CP 676São CarlosBrazil

Personalised recommendations