Effect of Moss Cover on Leaf Decomposition in Low-Order Woodland Streams

EPA Grant Number: U915444
Title: Effect of Moss Cover on Leaf Decomposition in Low-Order Woodland Streams
Investigators: Bland, Stephen N.
Institution: The State University of New York at Brockport
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: June 1, 1998 through June 1, 2001
Project Amount: $68,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Microbiology , Biology/Life Sciences , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to determine the effect of moss abundance on microbial pectolytic enzyme activity in low-order woodland streams.


My hypothesis will be addressed with a combination of laboratory and field experiments. Diel fluctuations of pH and calcium concentrations are monitored in laboratory mesocosms holding 200 mL filtered stream water (5.0 mg Ca/L) and one of four factors: (1) Brachythecium spp moss on wood or free floating; (2) Brachythecium colonized cobbles; (3) cobbles colonized by biofilm only; and (4) stream water only. Calcium concentrations are expected to be higher in mesocosms containing moss, and will be measured by flame-ionizing atomic absorption spectrophotometry following standard methods. Field experiments will be conducted on 12 first-order streams at 2,000-ft elevation in Cattaraugus County, NY. Bryophyte abundance is measured as percent cover from the spring source to 200 m downstream. Litter bag experiments will compare mass loss and pectin lyaze activity in two reaches from each stream: one > 50 percent moss cover, the other < 10 percent moss cover. Gradient, diel temperature, depth, and stream power is roughly equal among the study sites within each stream.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, microbial pectolytic enzyme, activity, low-order woodland streams, moss cover, leaf decomposition, diel fluctuations, bryophyte, Brachythecium spp, mesocosms, atomic absorption spectrophotometry, pectin lyaze activity, biofilm.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final