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Local geology determines responses of stream producers and fungal decomposers to nutrient enrichment: A field experiment

  • Heikki Mykrä
  • Romain Sarremejane
  • Tiina Laamanen
  • Satu Maaria Karjalainen
  • Annamari Markkola
  • Sirkku Lehtinen
  • Kaisa Lehosmaa
  • Timo Muotka
Research Article


We examined how short-term (19 days) nutrient enrichment influences stream fungal and diatom communities, and rates of leaf decomposition and algal biomass accrual. We conducted a field experiment using slow-releasing nutrient pellets to increase nitrate (NO3-N) and phosphate (PO4-P) concentrations in a riffle section of six naturally acidic (naturally low pH due to catchment geology) and six circumneutral streams. Nutrient enrichment increased microbial decomposition rate on average by 14%, but the effect was significant only in naturally acidic streams. Nutrient enrichment also decreased richness and increased compositional variability of fungal communities in naturally acidic streams. Algal biomass increased in both stream types, but algal growth was overall very low. Diatom richness increased in response to nutrient addition by, but only in circumneutral streams. Our results suggest that primary producers and decomposers are differentially affected by nutrient enrichment and that their responses to excess nutrients are context dependent, with a potentially stronger response of detrital processes and fungal communities in naturally acidic streams than in less selective environments.


Diatoms Ecosystem functioning Environmental context Food webs Fungi Natural acidity 



We thank Tarja Törmänen for laboratory assistance and Riccardo Fornaroli for assistance in field work. Our research was funded by University of Oulu (Thule Institute), Academy of Finland and MARS project (Managing Aquatic ecosystems and water Resources under multiple Stress) funded under the 7th EU Framework Programme, Theme 6 (Environment including Climate Change), Contract No.: 603378 (

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 217 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Freshwater CentreFinnish Environment Institute (SYKE)OuluFinland
  2. 2.Department of Ecology & GeneticsUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

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