A LONG-TERM LOOK AT THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY ON LEAF LITTER PROCESSING IN THE OGEECHEE RIVER
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a raise in temperatures and changes to precipitation patterns for the 21st century. These changes are expected to lead to a higher frequency of extreme events such as drought and floods which lead to the alteration of the hydrology, communities, and processes of freshwater ecosystems. Leaf litter decomposition in stream ecosystems is an important component of the energy and nutrient cycle representing a food source for aquatic organisms. This has made it a tool for assessing long term responses to disturbance due to changes in the assemblage of macroinvertebrates that colonize leaf packs. My objective is to use long-term data (6 years of decomposition data at the same site) to evaluate and predict the effects climate variability may have on leaf decomposition and the invertebrate community. Preliminary results from 2012, a year following an extensive drought (>1 yr), vs subsequent years reveal a faster rate of decomposition, insect abundance and diversity, and a shift to a majority scraper functional feeding group in comparison with majority collector-gatherers the from consequent years.
Jose Sanchez-Ruiz (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Checo Colon-Gaud (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Georgia Southern University, email@example.com;