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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

VALDOVINOS, CLAUDIO. Riparian leaf litter processing by benthic macroinvertebrates in a woodland stream of central Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.2, pp.445-453. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2001000200018.

Leaf litter input from riparian landscapes has been identified as both a major energy flow to stream ecosystems and as a food source for stream macroinvertebrates. In riparian landscapes of woodland streams of central Chile, the native deciduous hardwoods are being artificially replaced by exotic coniferous trees at a large spatial scale. It is suggested that this process has a significant impact on the stream communities of central Chile. Today, exotic plantations occur throughout central Chile, with Pinus radiata (D. Don) (Monterrey pine) accounting for about 80 % of the more than 1,800,000 ha of exotic forests. The objective of this paper was to analyze the effect of the litter beds of a dominant native species (Nothofagus pumilio) and an exotic species (P. radiata) on the detritus processing carried out by benthic macroinvertebrates, in an experimental catchment of central Chile (Rucúe Creek; 36° 26'00" S, 71° 35'40" W). Results revealed that processing rates of native leaf packs are higher than rates of coniferous leaf packs, suggesting that the replacement of the native hardwoods by exotic coniferous riparian flora has an important impact on the stream energy flow in central Chile. The decay rate coefficients (k) were 0.0072 for N. pumilio, and 0.0027 for P. radiata. The greater abundance and biomass of shredders per gram of leaf pack of native Nothofagus would explain the differences in leaf processing rates, especially through the activity of two Plecoptera Gripopterygidae, Limnoperla jaffueli and Antarctoperla michaelseni

Keywords : macroinvertebrates; leaf processing; stream ecosystem; Chile; exotic plantations; riparian vegetation.

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