Fluxes of dissolved organic carbon, other nutrients and microbial communities in a water-filled treehole ecosystem
Author ORCID Identifier
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3570-3588 : Catherine Febria
Bacterial production, Carbon cycling, Nutrient dynamics, Phytotelmata, Temporary waters, Treehole food-webs
Water-filled treeholes are temporally and spatially variable habitats that consist of communities of a limited number of insect orders, namely dipterans and beetles. Since these systems are largely heterotrophic, treeholes are dependent on the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem for their basal energy input. In this study, we observed a cyclic succession of three system states in a water-filled Fagus grandifolia treehole: 'connected' during rainfall; 'isolated' during periods without rain; and 'dry' when no freestanding water was present. During the isolated phase, a rapid, microbially mediated turn-over of nitrogen and sulphate took place, coincident with an accumulation of orthophosphate. Ammonium was the dominant form of nitrogen in the treehole water, and a net decrease in its concentration was observed when the water volume decreased. Normally, nitrate concentration showed only minor fluctuations (0.3-1.3 mg l-1) and concentrations of nitrite were very low (3-18 μg l -1). Concentration of sulphate showed a net decrease, coincident with an increase in sulphide. During the connected phase, the effect of stemflow and throughfall on the nutrient concentrations in the treehole water proved to be variable. Over time, both dilution of, and increase in, treehole water nutrient concentrations were observed. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration showed a net decrease during the isolated phase. Spring coarse particulate organic matter input into the treehole was variable (0.20-1.74 mg cm -2week-1). The observed variability in precipitation inputs as well as fall-in of organic matter underlines the pulsed character of basal energy entering the treehole food-web. DOC concentrations varied mainly with depth (15-57.4 mg l-1) as concentrations were almost three times greater within the detritus than within the water column. Bacterial abundances ranged from 7.3 × 105 to 9.3 × 106 cells ml-1 and did not appear to vary within the water column or in the detrital sediment. Rates of bacterial production increased 24 h after rain events, suggesting that the combined nutrient fluxes due to increased stemflow stimulate the microbial community. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Verdonschot, Ralf C.M.; Febria, Catherine M.; and Williams, D. Dudley. (2008). Fluxes of dissolved organic carbon, other nutrients and microbial communities in a water-filled treehole ecosystem. Hydrobiologia, 596 (1), 17-30.