Ecosystem processes: litter breakdown patterns in Mediterranean and Black Sea transitional waters


1 - Leaf litter decomposition rates, in aquatic ecosystems, are known to be related to many different abiotic and biotic factors. 2 - Here, we focus on the influence of abiotic factors, searching for patterns of reed litter decay rates on gradient of physiographic, hydrological and physico-chemical components of transitional water ecosystems. 3 - Field experiments were carried out in 16 water ecosystems in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea in spring 2005. 4 - Significant differences of leaf litter decomposition were observed among ecosystems along univariate gradient of tidal range, index of sinuosity, water temperature and salinity. At least 71% of variance in the litter breakdown rate was explained by the considered abiotic factors. 5 - It is concluded that, at the macro-ecological scale of study, some key abiotic factors, such as tidal range and salinity, are suggested to play a major role as drivers of plant detritus decomposition processes. 6 - The relevance of the described abiotic drivers as descriptor of the most commonly used classification schemes for transitional water ecosystems (i.e., Confinement and Venice System classifications), is a further support to their role as environmental forcing factors.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv1n3p51

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