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Forest clearance increases metabolism and organic matter processes in small headwater streams


Clapcott, JE and Barmuta, LA, Forest clearance increases metabolism and organic matter processes in small headwater streams, Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 29, (2) pp. 546-561. ISSN 0887-3593 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2010 North American Benthological Society

DOI: doi:10.1899/09-040.1


Small headwater streams are abundant components of the riverine landscape where critical biochemical processes occur that provide clean water, energy, and nutrients to downstream reaches. Disturbance to these systems as a result of human land use has the potential to affect downstream health. Rates of metabolism and organic matter processing were measured in 22 small forested headwater streams in 2 regions of Tasmania, Australia, to evaluate the effects of forestry disturbance. Twelve of these streams had been subjected to recent clearfell-burn-and-sow (CBS) harvest. Benthic metabolism was measured in small in situ chambers (production ranged from <0.001 to 21.845mgCm−2h−1 and respiration from <0.001 to 4.976mgCm−2h−1), whole-system metabolism was estimated based on relative habitat abundance (gross primary production ranged from <0.001 to 0.297gCm−2d−1 and daily respiration from 0.003 to 0.072gCm−2d−1). Algal growth potential was measured on nutrient diffusing pots (chlorophyll a ranged from <1.0 to 40.1mg/m2), and cellulose decomposition potential was assessed with a cotton-strip assay (cotton tensile strength loss ranged from 17.8% to 38.3% in 28d). Sometimes an increase in the variability of response is a consequence of disturbance, but in our study, the difference between forested streams and clearcut streams was a significant increase in the mean values of all functional variables. The degree of response depended on the underlying geology (broad-scale spatial variability) of the streams. Current management practices for small headwater streams in Tasmania do not protect instream processes from forestry disturbance in the short-term (i.e., 25y), and we suggest that an investigation of long-term response is warranted.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:benthic metabolism, sediment respiration, cellulose decomposition potential, chlorophyll a, robust means, dispersion, disturbance, scale
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Biochemistry and cell biology
Research Field:Cell metabolism
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Clapcott, JE (Ms Joanne Clapcott)
UTAS Author:Barmuta, LA (Associate Professor Leon Barmuta)
ID Code:67232
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-03-01
Last Modified:2018-06-25

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