Wood stock in neotropical streams: Quantifying and comparing instream wood among biomes and regions

Saraiva, Sarah O. and Rutherfurd, Ian D. and Kaufmann, Philip R. and Leal, Cecília G. and Macedo, Diego R. and Pompeu, Paulo S. (2022) Wood stock in neotropical streams: Quantifying and comparing instream wood among biomes and regions. PLoS One, 17 (10). ISSN 1932-6203

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Instream wood plays important chemical, physical and ecological functions in aquatic systems, benefiting biota directly and indirectly. However, human activities along river corridors have disrupted wood recruitment and retention, usually leading to reductions in the amount of instream wood. In the tropics, where wood is believed to be more transient, the expansion of agriculture and infrastructure might be reducing instream wood stock even more than in the better studied temperate streams. However, research is needed to augment the small amount of information about wood in different biomes and ecosystems of neotropical streams. Here we present the first extensive assessment of instream wood loads and size distributions in streams of the wet-tropical Amazon and semi-humid-tropical Cerrado (the Brazilian savanna). We also compare neotropical wood stocks with those in temperate streams, first comparing against data from the literature, and then from a comparable dataset from temperate biomes in the USA. Contrary to our expectations, Amazon and Cerrado streams carried similar wood loads, which were lower than the world literature average, but similar to those found in comparable temperate forest and savanna streams in the USA. Our results indicate that the field survey methods and the wood metric adopted are highly important when comparing different datasets. But when properly compared, we found that most of the wood in temperate streams is made-up of a small number of large pieces, whereas wood in neotropical streams is made up of a larger number of small pieces that produce similar total volumes. The character of wood volumes among biomes is linked more to the delivery, transport and decomposition mechanisms than to the total number of pieces. Future studies should further investigate the potential instream wood drivers in neotropical catchments in order to better understand the differences and similarities here detected between biomes and climatic regions.

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Journal Article
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PLoS One
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Deposited On:
13 Oct 2022 11:20
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 11:55