John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Effects of road deicer (NACL) and amphibian grazers on detritus processing in pond mesocosms

Road deicers have been identified as potential stressors in aquatic habitats throughout the United States and we know little regarding associated impacts to ecosystem function. A critical component of ecosystem function that has not previously been evaluated with respect to freshwater salinization is the impact on organic matter breakdown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate cumulative effects of road deicers and tadpole grazers on leaf litter breakdown rate (g d−1) and microbial respiration (mg O2 g leaf−1 h−1). To test this interaction, in May 2008 the authors added dry leaf litter (Quercus spp.) to forty 600‐L pond mesocosms and inoculated each with algae and zooplankton. In a full‐factorial design, they manipulated a realistic level of road salt (ambient or elevated at 645 mg L−1 Cl‐) and tadpole (Hyla versicolor) presence or absence. The elevated chloride treatment reduced microbial respiration by 24% in the presence of tadpoles. The breakdown of leaf litter by tadpoles occurred 9.7% faster under ambient chloride conditions relative to the elevated chloride treatment. Results of the present study suggest that the microbial community is directly impacted by road deicers and heavy tadpole grazing under ambient conditions limits microbial capacity to process detritus. Road salts and tadpoles interact to limit microbial respiration, but to a lesser extent leaf mass loss rate, thereby potentially restricting energy flow from detrital sources in pond ecosystems. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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