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Shifts in allochthonous input and autochthonous production in streams along an agricultural land-use gradientAuthor(s): Elizabeth Hagen; Matthew McTammany; Jackson Webster; Ernest Benfield
Source: Hydrobiologia 655(1):61-77
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
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DescriptionRelative contributions of allochthonous inputs and autochthonous production vary depending on terrestrial land use and biome. Terrestrially derived organic matter and in-stream primary production were measured in 12 headwater streams along an agricultural land-use gradient. Streams were examined to see how carbon (C) supply shifts from forested streams receiving primarily terrestrially derived C to agricultural streams, which may rely primarily on C derived from algal productivity. We measured allochthonous input, chlorophyll a concentration, and periphyton biomass in each stream, and whole-stream metabolism in six streams. Our results suggest a threshold between moderate- and heavy-agriculture land uses in which terrestrially derived C is replaced by in-stream algal productivity as the primary C source for aquatic consumers. A shift from allochthonous to autochthonous production was not evident in all heavy-agriculture streams, and only occurred in heavy-agriculture streams not impacted by livestock grazing. We then compared our findings to rates of allochthonous input and GPP in streams with minimal human influences in multiple biomes to assess how land-use practices influence C sources to stream ecosystems. The proportion of C derived from allochthonous versus autochthonous sources to heavy-agriculture streams was most similar to grassland and desert streams, while C sources to forested, light-, and moderate-agriculture streams were more similar to deciduous and montane coniferous forest streams. We show that C source to streams is dependent on land use, terrestrial biome, and degradation of in-stream conditions. Further, we suggest that within a biome there seems to be a compensation such that total C input is nearly equal whether it is from allochthonous or autochthonous sources.
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CitationHagen, Elizabeth M.; McTammany, Matthew E.; Webster, Jackson R.; Benfield, Ernest F. 2010. Shifts in allochthonous input and autochthonous production in streams along an agricultural land-use gradient. Hydrobiologia 655(1):61-77.
KeywordsAgriculture, Land-use gradient, Metabolism, Litterfall, Gross primary production, Southern Appalachian streams
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