Criticism of the litterbag technique for the study of aquatic plant decay: Suppression of epiphytic algal biomass.
Schnitzer, S. A.; Neely, R. K.
published: Jun 14, 2000
ArtNo. ESP141014803012, Price: 29.00 €
Recent studies have suggested that autotrophs (cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae) attached to emergent plant detritus are important to the decay of that detritus; however, the litterbag methodology commonly employed for study of plant decay may inhibit epiphytic autotrophs. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the change in epiphytic algal biomass on Typha latifolia litter in four types of litter enclosures. The enclosures were designed to provide various combinations of light intensity and invertebrate access to the surface of enclosed Typha litter. Within the enclosures, algal biomass (as chlorophyll-a) on the litter and rate of Typha decay were examined over 133 days (May-October, 1994). Over the entire study, average chlorophyll concentrations on litter incubated in enclosures constructed of fine mesh ranged from 0.41 ± 0.04 to 0.23 ± 0.04 µg cm-2 of detritus, relative to values of 0.63 ± 0.07 to 0.75 ± 0.07 µg cm-2 on detritus incubated in coarse-mesh enclosures or open, floating enclosures. The results clearly indicated that autotrophic biomass on Typha litter was inhibited by litter enclosures of fine mesh; consequently, previous studies of aquatic plant decay may have missed contributions to decay processes by this important component of the detrital community.