Input, storage, export potential, and system-level processing of coarse organic matter were investigated in the intermittent streams that drain the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine (BBWM). BBWM is a paired catchment study investigating ecosystem effects of atmospheric N and S deposition. We predicted that the increased N loading to the treatment catchment would elevate input of organic matter, result in higher levels of coarse organic matter biomass, and increase litter processing rates in the treatment stream relative to the reference stream. We found that the streams draining BBWM did not have statistically different coarse organic matter input, biomass, or processing rates and we found only modest differences in export potential. System-level processing rates for maple (Acer spp.) litter were similar to rates previously quantified using litterbag methods. However, system-level processing rates for American beech (Fagus grandifolia) litter were an order of magnitude faster than rates measured with litterbags. This difference was likely due to movements of these leaves from riffle/runs and pools into debris dams, rather than differences in measurements of leaf tissue processing rates between methods. Organic matter dynamics of the intermittent streams at BBWM were similar to other forested, headwater streams. Our results indicate that the long-term N manipulation experiment at BBWM has not altered input, storage or processing of coarse organic matter in the treatment stream. Physical characteristics of these stream ecosystems appear to regulate organic matter dynamics rather than differences in nutrient chemistry.
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|Published - 1 Jan 2005