Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Influence of shredder feeding and nutrients on fungal activity and community structure in headwater streams


Namil Chung
Keller Suberkropp



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Southern Research Station


Fundamental and Applied Limnology 173(1):35-46


In stream detrital food webs, interactions occur between aquatic hyphomycetes associated with decomposing leaves and shredders consuming those leaves. However, few studies have examined how the feeding activity of shredders affects aquatic hyphomycetes. We examined the effect of shredder feeding on aquatic hyphomycete communities associated with submerged leaves in two southern Appalachian headwater streams in Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, North Carolina, USA. Coarse (allowing shredder access) and fine (preventing shredder access) mesh litter bags containing red maple (Acer rubrum) leaves were placed in the treatment stream (C54) which was enriched with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and in the reference stream (C53) and were retrieved monthly. Both shredder feeding and nutrient enrichment enhanced breakdown rates. The breakdown rates of leaves in coarse mesh bags in the reference stream (k = 0.0275) and fine mesh bags in the nutrient enriched stream (k = 0.0272) were not significantly different, suggesting that the higher fungal activity stimulated by nutrient enrichment could increase the relative contribution of fungi to leaf breakdown to the level similar to that of shredders in the reference stream. Macroinvertebrate abundance and biomass were higher in the litter bags submerged in the treatment stream. Fungal sporulation rates and biomass were higher in the treatment stream than in the reference stream, but neither fungal biomass nor sporulation rate was affected by shredder feeding in either stream. The enrichment with N and P altered fungal community composition more than shredder feeding. Species richness was higher in the nutrient enriched stream than in the reference stream, and fungal assemblages from fine and coarse mesh bag treatments within a stream were more similar to each other than the fungal assemblages from the same mesh bag treatments but from different streams.


Chung, Namil; Suberkropp, Keller. 2008. Influence of shredder feeding and nutrients on fungal activity and community structure in headwater streams. Fundamental and Applied Limnology 173(1):35-46.


Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.