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CADDIS Volume 2: Sources, Stressors & Responses

energy sources physical habitat hydrology temperature water and sediment quality stormwater runoff wastewater inputs riparian and channel alteration urbanization

Terrestrial leaf litter inputs & retention

Urbanization can alter terrestrial leaf litter inputs and retention in several ways. Reported effects include:

↓ leaf litter inputs resulting from riparian alteration and stream burial
[Carroll & Jackson 2008]

↑ leaf litter inputs due to increased horizontal delivery (e.g., via stormdrains)
[Miller & Boulton 2005, Carroll & Jackson 2008]

Δ type and timing of inputs due to changes in riparian taxa
[Imberger et al. 2008, Roberts & Bilby 2009]

↓ leaf litter retention due to scouring by high flows and reductions in debris dams
[Paul & Meyer 2001]


Terrestrial leaf litter processing

Urbanization alters several variables that influence leaf decay, leading to variable effects of urban development on decomposition rates. Reported findings include:

↑ leaf decomposition rates related to: ↓ leaf decomposition rates related to:

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terrestrial leaf litter button primary production and respiration button quantity and quality of DOC button
Figure 43. (A) Pittosporum undulatum (closed circles) and Eucalyptus obliqua (open circles) leaf breakdown rates, and (B) microbial activity in leaves estimated by fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis, vs. % effective imperviousness (EI). Breakdown rates and microbial activity increased with % EI for the more readily transformed leaf litter of introduced Pittosporum, but effects on native Eucalyptus were minimal.
From Imberger SJ et al. 2008. More microbial activity, not abrasive flow or shredder abundance, accelerates breakdown of labile leaf litter in urban streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 27(3):549-561. Reprinted with permission.

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