Waterfalls are geomorphic features that often partition streams into discrete zones. Our study examined aquatic communities, litter decomposition and periphyton growth rates for above- and below-waterfall pools in Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei. We observed higher fish densities in below-waterfall pools (0.24 fish m−2 vs. 0.02 fish m−2 in above-waterfall pools) and higher shrimp abundance in above-waterfall pools (eight shrimp/pool vs. less than one shrimp/pool in below-waterfall pools). However, macroinvertebrate densities (excluding shrimp) were similar among both pool types. Ambient periphyton was higher in below-waterfall pools in 2013 (4.3 vs. 2.8 g m−2 in above-waterfall pools) and 2014 (4.8 vs. 3.4 g m−2 in above-waterfall pools), while periphyton growth rates varied from 0.05 to 0.26 g m−2 days−1 and were significantly higher in below-waterfall pools in 2014. Leaf litter decomposition rates (0.001 to 0.024 days−1) did not differ between pool types, suggesting that neither shrimp nor fish densities had consistent impacts on this ecosystem function. Regardless, this research demonstrates the varied effects of biotic and abiotic factors on community structure and ecosystem function. Our results have highlighted the importance of discontinuities, such as waterfalls, in tropical streams.
- Ecosystem functions
- Tropical streams