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Comparison of Mass Loss, Nutrients, and Invertebrates Associated with Elm Leaf Litter Decomposition in Perennial and Intermittent Reaches of Tallgrass Prairie Streams

Cathy M. Tate and Martin E. Gurtz
The Southwestern Naturalist
Vol. 31, No. 4 (Nov. 10, 1986), pp. 511-520
DOI: 10.2307/3671705
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3671705
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Comparison of Mass Loss, Nutrients, and Invertebrates Associated with Elm Leaf Litter Decomposition in Perennial and Intermittent Reaches of Tallgrass Prairie Streams
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Abstract

Decay rates, nutrient content and invertebrates associated with American elm leaves were examined in an intermittent and a perennial stream draining adjacent tallgrass prairie watersheds (Konza Prairie, Kansas). Both streams were flowing in November 1981 when leaf packs were placed in the channel. Elm leaves decayed faster in the perennial stream than in either of two intermittent sites. Decay rates were not different between the two intermittent sites. There were no significant differences among sites in either nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P) concentrations or carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratios in elm leaves. N concentrations of the leaves increased during decomposition whereas P decreased in concentration for the first two months and then increased; C:N ratios in elm leaves decreased during decomposition. Initial leaching of leaves may provide a nutrient input into prairie streams; but decomposing leaf material may also act as a nutrient sink and compete with other ecosystem processes. Shredder insects were low in abundance or absent from leaf packs.

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