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SFS Annual Meeting

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TADPOLES FACILITATE DECOMPOSITION OF WHITE OAK LEAF LITTER

With amphibian populations rapidly declining, studying the impact anurans on freshwater ecosystem function has become a large area of interest. Specifically, their role in facilitating decomposition of allochthonous leaf litter is currently understudied. The purpose of our experiment was to determine if anuran communities were directly contributing to the decomposition of native leaf litter in freshwater ecosystems. We hypothesized communities that contained larval anurans would have a higher percent of leaf litter mass lost, compared to the communities without tadpoles. To test our experiment, we designed a randomized mesocosm experiment that took place at Loyola University Chicago. The mesocosms were used to replicate a native leaf litter treatment (Quercus alba) with six units containing 20 larval wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) and six containing simply water and leaf litter. The mass of remaining leaf litter were weighed two weeks after removal of the metamorphic wood frogs. We found leaf litter decomposition rate was measurably faster in the wood frog treatment, indicating that larval wood frogs had some influence of breakdown and/or consumption of leaf litter. Thus, amphibian declines could alter the rate at which energy becomes available to wetland ecosystems.

Daniella DeRose (Primary Presenter/Author), Loyola University Chicago, dderose@luc.edu;


Joseph Milanoivch ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Loyola University Chicago, jmilanovich@luc.edu;