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PREDICTING WARMING EFFECTS ON LITTER BREAKDOWN RATES USING FORESTED AND URBAN STREAMS

Land use and climate change are predicted to increase stream water temperatures. Stream warming is predicted to accelerate processing rates of terrestrially-derived detritus which may negatively affect stream life as plant matter is critical for organism production. However, several confounding factors such as variation in shredder biomass, microbial shifts, or water quality impairment could cause carbon processing rates to deviate from predictions based on metabolic theory. To quantify the effect of water temperature on leaf breakdown rates, we incubated Acer rubrum and Rhododendron maximum leaves for six-week periods in 12 forested sites along a temperature gradient in the Southern Appalachians and 4 urban sites in the GA Piedmont. Breakdown rates in forested streams were negatively related to temperature (slope, marginally (p=0.07) significant). The two litter species, which represent labile vs. recalcitrant carbon sources, responded similarly. Our results indicate the importance of establishing empirical relationships with temperature and biological response over a range of conditions.

Garrett Frandson (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Georgia, garrett.frandson19@gmail.com;


Amy Rosemond ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Georgia, rosemond@uga.edu;


Phillip Bumpers ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, bumpersp@gmail.com;