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Title: The breakdown of Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus Labill.) bark in a Portuguese stream
Authors: Gonçalves, Ana Lúcia 
Gama, Mafalda 
Ferreira, Verónica 
Graça, Manuel A.S. 
Canhoto, Cristina 
Keywords: Eucalyptus; decay; biofi lm; hyphomycetes; fungal biomass; sporulation
Issue Date: 2007
Serial title, monograph or event: Fundamental and Applied Limnology
Volume: 168
Issue: 4
Abstract: Eucalypt forests produce large amounts of bark, which potentially accumulate in streams, constituting an important carbon and nutrient source for benthic food webs. In this study, we compared the breakdown (and associated microbial activity and diversity and invertebrate abundance) of Eucalyptus globulus bark and leaves, enclosed in coarse and fi ne mesh bags, in a 3rd order stream of central Portugal. Biofi lm development on bark was also analyzed with scanning electronic microscopy and respiration rates quantifi ed. After 90 days of incubation, bark lost 21–51 % of its initial mass while leaves lost 48–57 %. Fungal biomass (as determined from ergosterol concentrations) increased over time and was higher in leaves than in bark (79 vs. 50 mg [g AFDM]–1 at day 90). Sporulation by aquatic hyphomycetes was only observed after 2 weeks (leaves and bark in coarse mesh bags) or 2 months (bark in fi ne mesh bags). The initial litter mass converted into conidia in leaves was 7–45 fold the values found in bark. Fungal communities were dissimilar in the two substrates with bark presenting the lowest number of species. Lunulospora curvula and Anguillospora crassa dominated the fungal communities in bark, while L. curvula and Tetrachaetum elegans were the dominant species in leaves. Respiration rates, as a measurement of microbial activity, were lower in bark than in leaves (0.10 vs. 0.25 mg O2 [g AFDM]–1 h–1 in fi ne mesh and 0.11 vs. 0.39 mg O2 [g–1AFDM]–1 h–1 in coarse mesh). Biofi lms in bark clearly increased after 15 days of immersion and contributed to 6–85 % of total oxygen consumption. Overall, the results suggest that microbial decomposition pathways dominate the processing of eucalyptus leaves and bark, although leaching and physical fragmentation may stimulate and facilitate the breakdown of bark.
DOI: 10.1127/1863-9135/2007/0168-0307
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FCTUC Ciências da Vida - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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