, Volume 654, Issue 1, pp 125–136 | Cite as

What is more important for invertebrate colonization in a stream with low-quality litter inputs: exposure time or leaf species?

  • Raphael LigeiroEmail author
  • Marcelo S. Moretti
  • José Francisco GonçalvesJr.
  • Marcos Callisto
Primary research paper


The objective of this study was to evaluate the influences of detritus from the leaves of different species, and of exposure time on invertebrate colonization of leaves in a shaded Cerrado stream. We hypothesized that the exposure time is the main factor that influences the colonization of leaves by invertebrates. We used leaves of five tree species native to the Brazilian Cerrado: Protium heptaphyllum and Protium brasiliense (Burseraceae), Ocotea sp. (Lauraceae), Myrcia guyanensis (Myrtaceae), and Miconia chartacea (Melastomataceae), which are characterized by their toughness and low-nutritional quality. Litter bags, each containing leaves from one species, were placed in a headwater stream and removed after 7, 15, 30, 60, 90, and 120 days. The dominant taxon was Chironomidae, which comprised ca. 52% of all organisms and ca. 20% of the total biomass. The taxonomic richness of colonizing organisms did not vary among the leaf species. However, the density and biomass of the associated organisms varied differently among the kinds of detritus during the course of the incubation. The collector-gatherers and shredders reached higher densities in the detritus that decomposed more rapidly (Ocotea sp. and M. guyanensis), principally in the more advanced stages of colonization. The collector-filterers reached higher densities in the detritus that decomposed more slowly (P. heptaphyllum, P. brasiliense, and M. chartacea), principally in the initial stages of incubation. A cluster analysis divided the detritus samples of different leaf species according to the exposure time (initial phase: up to 7 days; intermediate phase: 7–30 days; advanced phase: 30–120 days), suggesting some succession in invertebrate colonization, with differences in taxon composition (indicator taxa analysis). These results suggest that regardless of the leaf-detritus species, exposure time was the main factor that influenced the colonization process of aquatic invertebrates.


Brazilian Savanna (Cerrado) Functional feeding groups Invertebrate assemblages Leaf patches Tropical streams 



The authors are grateful to the Research Foundation of the State of Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), the Brazilian National Council for Research (CNPq), and the Ministry of Education of Brazil (CAPES Foundation) for financial support. This article was written while Marcos Callisto was a sabbatical visitor (CAPES fellowship No. 4959/09-4) at the IMAR, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal. Manuel Graça and several anonymous referees provided extensive comments that improved the final version of the manuscript. Thanks to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) for logistical facilities and licenses, and to our colleagues Juliana S. França and Joana D’arc de Paula for their assistance during field and laboratory work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphael Ligeiro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcelo S. Moretti
    • 1
    • 2
  • José Francisco GonçalvesJr.
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marcos Callisto
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia de Bentos, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia de EcossistemasCentro Universitário Vila VelhaVila VelhaBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaDFBrazil

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