" BES Project Abstracts 2005
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2005 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Leaf Litter Sources, Composition, Transport and Breakdown in Small Urban Streams: The Effects of Altered Hydrology and Upland Riparian Zones
Kenneth T. Belt, Christopher Swan, Richard Pouyat, Andrew Miller and Sujay Kaushal
Abstract: The influx of organic matter (OM) to headwater streams is important to aquatic food webs and is crucial to maintaining functional stream ecosystems. Understanding how urbanization and urban trees interact to alter OM transport and cycling in receiving streams is needed to describe OM processing in urban catchments and is also potentially useful to watershed assessment and management efforts, which have not previously considered OM budgets. This research will investigate the magnitude, composition and quality of dissolved and particulate organic matter available to urban stream ecosystems in streams of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. This work will address the following elements through dry weather and storm runoff OM sampling: 1. OM Streetscape Sources: Urban drainage infrastructure provides a vehicle for transporting OM from streetscapes to streams. 2. Loads from “Upland Riparian” Areas: Large exports of OM from expanded urban drainage networks may compensate for removal of streambed OM by scouring storm flows. 3. Organic matter as a “vector”: OM may play a heretofore unappreciated role in the transport and cycling of nutrient, contaminant, and carbon loads from urban catchments. 4. Leaf litter processing rates: Measuring these, along with loading information, will help determine the availability of OM as a food source for stream biota. 5. OM litter Quality: The species diversity of litter in urban streams may be very high due to the many different “managers” that populate the urban landscape. This poster describes the approaches and motivations for this research.