Leaf litter quality has an important nutritional role in headwater streams. Since upland streams are relatively small (1st order and 2nd order streams) with a dense forest canopy, primary productivity from stream macrophytes and microphytes is hindered (Fisher and Likens 1973). This creates a dependence on the adjacent riparian zone as a primary productivity input, making upland stream ecosystems detrital based and dependent on allochthonous organic matter (Fisher and Likens 1973, Cummins and Klug 1979). Differing riparian vegetation allocate varying nutritional value which in turn reflects the stream macro and microscopic fauna. Riparian vegetation composition can be influenced by disturbances such as logging or natural disasters. This study focused on the effects of logging on leaf litter composition.
To determine if logging had an effect on riparian leaf litter food quality indicators, four managed (logged) sites were compared to three Forest Preserve sites within the Adirondack Park. Food quality indicators, protein, ash free dry mass and hydrolysis resistant organic matter, were compared across sites. Managed sites had a slightly higher contribution by volume of all food quality indicators. Differences for individual indicators largely reflected changes in litter species composition.
Published in SUNY Plattsburgh's Scientia Discipulorum Journal of Undergraduate Research. Volume 3, issue 1, pages 1-10. 2008.