Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 625–635

Elevated chloride and consumer presence independently influence processing of stream detritus

Article

Abstract

Headwater streams are in close contact with the landscape and known to mediate disturbances to downstream waterways through important ecological interactions. We studied how elevated chloride from road deicer, a pollutant of rising concern in urban ecosystems, influenced the leaf-microbial matrix in streams, and subsequent processing of C and N. In a multi-factorial laboratory experiment, we determined if elevated chloride interacts with nitrogen loading and invertebrate consumer feeding to alter rates of leaf litter breakdown and N immobilization. Naturally colonized leaf litter, the dominant C source in small streams, was collected from five Piedmont streams (Maryland, USA) and subjected to a gradient of NaCl (0, 1,000, 5,000 mg Cl l−1) and dissolved nitrogen (ambient, elevated), and an invertebrate treatment (presence, absence) in a total of 60 microcosms. Loss rate and C:N content were determined from remaining leaf litter after 16 d of incubation. Chloride loading significantly (P < 0.05) reduced loss rate regardless of N loading, and C:N content significantly (P < 0.05) increased with Cl concentration, interacting marginally (P < 0.10) with N loading. Invertebrate feeding had a marginally-significant (P < 0.10), negative effect on loss rate, but not C:N content. Overall, elevated chloride significantly influenced organic matter loss rate and N immobilization, despite N loading and the presence of invertebrates. We conclude that there is the potential for chloride loading as road deicer runoff to negatively influence microbial processing of C and N by stream-dwelling microbial communities.

Keywords

Chloride Consumer-resource interactions Leaf litter breakdown Nitrogen Streams 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography & Environmental SystemsUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Center for Urban Environmental Research & EducationUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA

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