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Relevance of large litter bag burial for the study of leaf breakdown in the hyporheic zone

Marmonier, Pierre and Piscart, Christophe and Sarriquet, Pierre Emmanuel and Azam, Didier and Chauvet, Eric Relevance of large litter bag burial for the study of leaf breakdown in the hyporheic zone. (2010) Hydrobiologia, 641 (1). 203-214. ISSN 0018-8158

(Document in English)

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-009-0082-5


Particulate organic matter is the major source of energy for most low-order streams, but a large part of this litter is buried within bed sediment during floods and thus become poorly available for benthic food webs. The fate of this buried litter is little studied. In most cases, measures of breakdown rates consist of burying a known mass of litter within the stream sediment and following its breakdown over time. We tested this method using large litter bags (15 x 15 cm) and two field experiments. First, we used litter large bags filled with Alnus glutinosa leaves (buried at 20 cm depth with a shovel) in six stations within different land-use contexts and with different sediment grain sizes. Breakdown rates were surprisingly high (0.0011–0.0188 day-1) and neither correlate with most of the physico-chemical characteristics measured in the interstitial habitats nor with the land-use around the stream. In contrast, the rates were negatively correlated with a decrease in oxygen concentrations between surface and buried bags and positively correlated with both the percentage of coarse particles (20–40 mm) in the sediment and benthic macro-invertebrate richness. These results suggest that the vertical exchanges with surface water in the hyporheic zone play a crucial role in litter breakdown. Second, an experimental modification of local sediment (removing fine particles with a shovel to increase vertical exchanges) highlighted the influence of grain size on water and oxygen exchanges, but had no effect on hyporheic breakdown rates. Burying large litter bags within sediments may thus not be a relevant method, especially in clogged conditions, due to changes induced through the burial process in the vertical connectivity between surface and interstitial habitats that modify organic matter processing.

Item Type:Article
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université de Rennes 1 (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:19 Mar 2014 09:11

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