Macroinvertebrate colonization of invasive Fallopia x bohemica leaf litter in a temperate stream
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We compared macroinvertebrate communities on leaf packs made of recently senesced leaves of native Quercus and Acer, and invasive Fallopia x bohemica. Leaf packs were left in Cascadilla Creek, a third-order temperate stream in central New York, U.S.A., for 7, 14, 28, or 56 days. After we removed them from the stream, we examined the leaf packs for biomass loss and invertebrate richness and abundance. While we expected to see a significant difference between leaf types, which would indicate a cascade effect of invasive vegetation on higher trophic levels, little variation was actually seen. The results of this study suggest that localized effects of F. x bohemica on invertebrate communities in streams are quite small if the invasive component represents only a small percentage of the total biomass of the system. Leaf breakdown rates also did not differ significantly between the invasive and either of the two native leaf types. We observed larger numbers of predators on leaves of F. x bohemica than on either of the native leaf types, which may impact leaf breakdown and consumer activity over a longer study period, but what we have seen so far is still inconclusive. Further study will have to better simulate true invasion conditions where native vegetation is not available to invertebrate communities, and incorporate a full season of leaf breakdown.
Dissertation or Thesis