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Tree species effects on microbial respiration and leaf breakdown in a coastal plain blackwater stream: implications for dissolved oxygen TMDLs

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Watershed ManWatershed Management to Meet Water Quality Standards and TMDLS (Total Maximum Daily Load) Proceedings of the 10-14 March 2007, San Antonio, Texas  701P0207.(doi:10.13031/2013.22490)
Authors:   Andrew S Mehring, George Vellidis, Catherine M Pringle, Kevin A Kuehn, R Richard Lowrance, Amy D Rosemond
Keywords:   TMDL, oxygen, microbial, respiration, organic matter, budget, breakdown

Dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the Little River, a tributary within the Suwannee River basin of southern Georgia, regularly drop below 1 mg L-1. This requires the development of total maximum daily load (TMDL) management and implementation plans for watersheds drained by these water body segments. However, potential site-specific factors influencing oxygen demand are not fully understood. We are developing a budget of coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM) for third- and fifth-order reaches of the Little River. Our CPOM budget will examine the dynamics of riparian inputs, standing stocks of various types of CPOM (e.g. leaf litter, woody debris), leaf litter breakdown, and transport and settling of CPOM and the fine particulate organic matter that results from its processing. In addition, we are examining the oxygen demand generated by the metabolic activities (respiration) of litter-associated microbial assemblages. Preliminary findings indicate that rates of litter mass loss and respiration of attached microbes differs significantly among the tree species examined. As a consequence, our budget of CPOM inputs and standing stocks will be sub-divided by tree species. Once developed, this budget will enhance the understanding of dissolved oxygen dynamics within coastal plain blackwater streams. Furthermore, this budget may provide important reference information for policy makers interested in management plans for these watersheds.

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