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Assessment of corn and banana leaves as potential standardized substrates for leaf decomposition in streams affected by mountaintop removal coal mining, West Virginia, USA
JOHNSON, B. R., K. M. FRITZ, R. Price, C. F. Maxwell, E. Benfield, AND J. R. Webster. Assessment of corn and banana leaves as potential standardized substrates for leaf decomposition in streams affected by mountaintop removal coal mining, West Virginia, USA. Presented at North American Benthological Society, Sante Fe, NM, June 06 - 11, 2010.
The goal of this research is to develop methods and indicators that are useful for evaluating the condition of aquatic communities, for assessing the restoration of aquatic communities in response to mitigation and best management practices, and for determining the exposure of aquatic communities to different classes of stressors (i.e., pesticides, sedimentation, habitat alteration).
Mountaintop removal and valley filling is a method of coal mining that buries Central Appalachian headwater streams. A 2007 federal court ruling highlighted the need for measurement of both ecosystem structure and function when assessing streams for mitigaton. Rapid functional assessment methods are therefore needed. We measured breakdown rates of commercially available corn and banana leaves to develop a standardized measure of decomposition. Litterbags of each species were deployed in ten streams in the Twentymile Creek, WV watershed and replicate bags collected monthly from December 2007 through June 2008. Red maple and oak litterbags were deployed similarly for comparisons. There was no significant mining effect on corn or banana leaf decomposition. Banana leaf breakdown rates were significantly faster than corn. When compared to oak and maple, breakdown rates (k-values) were: maple>oak=banana>corn. Only red maple indicated a mining effect on decomposition. Litter breakdown rates were highly variable and evidence suggests differences in hydrology and geomorphology may contribute to greater physical breakdown in mined streams.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ECOLOGICAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH DIVISION
ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH BRANCH