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We studied the role of riverbank plant leaves as habitat and food for macroinvertebrates in the Pomme de Terre River. Our objectives were to characterize tree cover along the riverbank using GIS, the decomposition of leaves of 4 native and invasive plant species, and the abundance and diversity of macroinvertebrates colonizing experimental leaf packs. Leaf packs contained boxelder, cottonwood, buckthorn or cattail leaves. Leaves were dried, put into mesh bags and attached to submerged logs in the river. Paper punchers were used to take leaf samples. Tree cover varied among counties. Macroinvertebrate abundance differed significantly between leaf species (ANOVA, p= 0.0284), but taxon richness did not. Riverbank species with more robust leaves such as cottonwood and cattail provide stable habitat to the stream. Delicate leaved species such as buckthorn and boxelder decompose more quickly and may provide food to macroinvertebrates in the form of coarse and fine organic matter.
Riparian plants; Plant litter--Biodegradation; Pomme de Terre River
Fulton, Lily, "Leaf Litter Decomposition in the Pomme de Terre River" (2018). Undergraduate Research Symposium 2018. 11.