We studied biomass and species composition changes of open perennial sand grassland (
) as response to different levels of simulated grazing pressures. We conducted a factorial micro-plot field experiment on previously grazed grassland that has been abandoned for a long time. In a two-way factorial design of 12 treatments × 8 repeats, we performed clipping (twice a year for three years) and litter treatments (removing and adding litter once at the beginning of the experiment) to simulate components of grazing, namely the biomass removal and the reduction of the litter accumulation. We used field spectroscopy and visual canopy cover estimation to measure the effects on the amount of the above-ground green biomass and on the vegetation composition.
Authors:C. Calderón del Cid, R. S. Rezende, A. R. Calor, J. S. Dahora, L. N. de Aragão, M. L. Guedes, A. N. Caiafa, and A. O. Medeiros
Leaf litter breakdown is an important process in riparian ecosystems, regulated by the concomitant fluctuations of allochthonous organic matter input (quality and quantity), the environmental conditions, and the decomposer community. Our objective was to assess the effects of temporal variability of litter quantity and quality over the stream's decomposer community. We hypothesized that the litter effects over the decomposer community would be overruled by Cerrado's harsh environmental conditions. Precipitation fluctuations, especially during dry and rain seasons, did modify the litterfall periodicity, but not the average organic matter entering the system or the litterfall triggers. Fifteen riparian species were identified contributing with organic matter into the stream, however, Richeria grandis contributed with 48% of litter biomass, helping explain the nutritional intra-annual balance given by the litter chemistry, that would be determinant for ecosystem stability. Higher aquatic hyphomycetes sporulation rates and invertebrate density during the dry season suggest that the decomposer community required a more stable environment (consistent low current) in order to colonize and exploit leaf litter. Our results point out that physical fragmentation was the predominant driver of litter breakdown for our system, due to high decomposition rates, litter remaining mass correlated negatively with precipitation, and low decomposer abundance and activity. Invertebrate collectors' abundance was negatively correlated with litter remaining mass and showed no temporal variation, suggesting that this functional group may have benefited from the particulate organic matter produced by physical fragmentation. Therefore, annual temporal variations on Brazilian savanna stream systems may drive the functioning of the ecosystem.