SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Empirical research in streams has demonstrated that terrestrial subsidies of tree leaf litter influence multiple community factors including composition, diversity and growth of individuals. However, little research has examined the importance of tree litter species on wetlands, which are ubiquitous across the landscape and serve as important habitats for a unique and diverse community of organisms. Using outdoor mesocosms, we assessed the impact of 12 litter monocultures and three litter mixtures (from both broadleaf and conifer trees) on pond communities containing gray tree frog tadpoles Hyla versicolor, periphyton, phytoplankton and zooplankton. We found that leaf litter species had substantial and differential impacts on all trophic groups in the community including effects on algal abundance, zooplankton density and amphibian growth. In many instances, patterns of responses were specific to individual litter species yet some responses, including both pH values and periphyton biomass, were generalizable to broad taxonomic groups. In addition, while most responses of litter mixtures were additive, we found evidence for antagonistic effects of litter mixing among responses of periphyton and amphibian body mass. Our results highlight the potential impact of human and naturally driven changes in forest composition on wetland communities through associated changes in leaf litter.