A Global Assessment of the Effects of Eucalyptus Plantations on Stream Ecosystem Functioning
Forest change is a major environmental problem worldwide. Forest streams, with their large aquatic–terrestrial interface and strong dependence on terrestrially derived organic matter, are highly sensitive to forest changes. Fast-wood plantations can be particularly threatening if they markedly differ from native forests. Eucalyptus plantations, in particular, cover large areas worldwide (> 20 million ha, mostly from 35°S to 35°N), but their effects on stream functioning have been addressed mostly in the Iberian Peninsula, which limits generalization to other regions. We assessed the effect of eucalyptus plantations on total (microbial decomposers and macroinvertebrates; in coarse mesh bags) and microbial-driven (in fine mesh bags) leaf litter decomposition by comparing streams flowing through native forests and eucalyptus plantations in seven regions in the Iberian Peninsula, Central Africa and South America. We found an overall significant inhibition of total litter decomposition by 23%. The effect did not significantly differ across regions, although a significant inhibition was found for Spain (− 41%), South Brazil (− 31%) and Uruguay (− 36%) (Portugal had a marginally nonsignificant inhibition by 50%) but not for other regions, suggesting that the effects of plantations in temperate climates are mediated through effects on macroinvertebrate communities. Contrarily, the overall effect for microbial-driven litter decomposition was non-significant, but it significantly differed across regions with a significant stimulation in Central Brazil (110%) and Uruguay (32%), and nonsignificant effects for other regions (Kenya had a marginally nonsignificant inhibition by 48%), suggesting that functional redundancy among microbial communities is not general and effects can occur if plantations induce changes in nutrient availability, solar irradiation or litter characteristics.
Keywordseffect size forest change leaf litter decomposition mesh bags meta-analysis response ratio stream functioning
This study was financed by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), through the strategic Project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE and through financial support given to VF (SFRH/BPD/76482/2011; IF/00129/2014). FTM was supported by the Sistema Nacional de Investigación-Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (SNI-ANII) and Programa de Desarrollo de las Ciencias Básicas (PEDECIBA)-Geociencias. LUH received financial support from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/Brazil; Edital CNPq/Universal #421632/2016-0 and Grant #305203/2017-7). Additional financial support was provided by the Basque Government (Grant No. IT-302-10), the Water Research Centre for Agriculture and Mining (CHRIAM 1513001) and Initiation Project 11170390 from National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research of the Chilean Government, the Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa do Distrito Federal (FAP-DF/Brazil; Edital 03/2015—No. 193.000.870/2015), and the CNPq/Brazil (Public call MCTI/CNPq No. 14/2013—Universal Proc.: 471767/2013-1; CT-Hidro/Climatic Changes/Water Resources/CNPq Proc. 403949/2013-0; Fellowship PQ No. 302957/2014-6). Comments by two anonymous reviewers and the subject-matter editor are also acknowledged.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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