Patterns in nutrient enrichment and decomposition of grass litter in Kenai Peninsula headwater streams, Alaska.




Kostka, Pamela K.

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The percent cover of alder in catchments drives dissolved inorganic nitrogen availability in southcentral Alaska headwater streams. I manipulated the availability of N and P to leaf packs of bluejoint grass litter using nutrient diffusion samplers (NDS) to experimentally test for nutrient limitation of litter breakdown, nutrient content, and bacterial biomass in three headwater streams differing in the percent cover of alder in their catchments. I found that litter breakdown rates, nutrient content, and bacterial biomass significantly increased in response to nitrogen treatments, and to a lesser degree, phosphorus treatments in the stream lacking alder in its catchment. Streams in catchments with even a low cover percentage of alder did not exhibit nitrogen limitation but exhibited phosphorus limitation even though all the streams in this study had relatively high phosphate levels.



Headwater streams., Nutrient enrichment., Bacterial biomass., Litter breakdown.