Hicks, Brendan J., & Laboyrie, J. Lee. (1999). Preliminary estimates of mass-loss rates, changes in stable isotope composition, and invertebrate colonisation of evergreen and deciduous leaves in a Waikato, New Zealand, stream. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 33(2), 221-232.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/201
Rates of mass loss are important in the choice of tree species used in riparian rehabilitation because leaves that break down fast should contribute to stream food-webs more rapidly than leaves that break down more slowly. To examine comparative mass-loss rates of some native evergreen and introduced deciduous trees in a New Zealand stream, fallen leaves were incubated in bags with 2 x 3 mm mesh openings. The native trees were mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus), kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides), silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii), rewarewa (Knightia excelsa), tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa), and the introduced trees were silver birch (Betula pendula) and alder (Alnus glutinosa). The leaf bags were left in the Mangaotama Stream for 28 days from mid April to mid May 1995 when mean water temperature was 14.5deg.C, giving a total of 406 degree days. Rates of mass loss followed the sequence: mahoe > silver birch > alder > kahikatea > silver beech > rewarewa > tawa. Mean mass-loss rate for mahoe, assuming a negative exponential model, was 0.0507 k day-1 (0.00350 k (degree day)-1), and for tawa was 0.0036 k day-1 (0.00025 k (degree day)-1). C:N ratio decreased on average from 45:1 to 35:1, and d15N increased between 0.7 and 3.0[[perthousand]] (1.8 +/- 0.41[[perthousand]], mean +/-1 standard error), excluding kahikatea. Changes in d13C were smaller and not consistent in direction. Biomass of invertebrates was greatest in bags that had lost 25-45% of their initial leaf biomass.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 33(2), 1999. (c) The Royal Society of New Zealand 1999, The Royal society of New Zealand webpage.