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Upland Forest Linkages to Seasonal Wetlands: Litter Flux, Processing, and Food Quality

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Palik, Brian J.; Batzer, Darold P.; Kern, Christel

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Ecosystems 8:1-11


The flux of materials across ecosystem boundaries has significant effects on recipient systems. Because of edge effects, seasonal wetlands in upland forest are good systems to explore these linkages. The purpose of this study was to examine flux of coarse particulate organic matter as litter fall into seasonal wetlands in Minnesota, and the relationship of this flux to development of mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti). We hypothesized that litter flux into seasonal wetlands was dominated by upland plant litter that was lower quality and slower to breakdown than wetland litter, and that development rate of mosquitoes reared on upland litter was less than those reared on wetland litter. Of total litter fall into the wetlands, 71% originated in upland forest. Carbon to nitrogen ratios differed between upland litter (mostly sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) leaves) and wetland litter (mostly black ash (Fraxinus nirgra) leaves), averaging 63.9 and 47.7, respectively over two years. Breakdown rate of black ash leaves was faster than upland leaves (k (day-1) = 0.00329 and 0.00156, respectively), based on the average between wetland margins and centers. Development of mosquito larvae fed black ash leaves was faster than larvae fed upland leaves. Our results demonstrate linkages between upland forests and seasonal wetlands through litter fall. The abundance of upland litter in the wetlands may influence litter breakdown and carbon assimilation by invertebrates. Wetlands receiving high amounts of upland versus wetland litter may be lower quality habitats for invertebrates that depend on detrital pools for their development.


seasonal wetlands; ecosystem linkages; forest wetlands; CPOM; litter flux; litter breakdown; wetland invertebrates


Palik, Brian J.; Batzer, Darold P.; Kern, Christel. 2005. Upland Forest Linkages to Seasonal Wetlands: Litter Flux, Processing, and Food Quality. Ecosystems 8:1-11

Last updated on: August 11, 2006