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La colonización y descomposición biológica de la hojarasca en un arroyo subtropical

Cristiane Biasi, Cristina Cerezer, Sandro Santos

Resumen


En arroyos de bajo orden, la comunidad acuática obtiene energía principalmente del aporte de la hojarasca que proviene de la vegetación de la ribera. El procesamiento de las hojas implica medios físicos, químicos y factores biológicos que pueden diferir entre especies vegetales. En esta investigación se evaluó el efecto de la calidad del sustrato sobre el proceso de descomposición y sobre la colonización por invertebrados acuáticos asociados, en un arroyo subtropical. Las hojas de dos especies de árboles nativos, Ficus luschnathiana y Casearia sylvestris, se incubaron en bolsas de malla gruesa en un arroyo durante 28 días, colectándose muestras semanalmente. Las tasas de descomposición fueron mayores en F. luschnathiana que en C. sylvestris. En los primeros siete días del experimento, F. luschnathiana perdió ~60% de la masa inicial, mientras que C. sylvestris perdió ~30%. Las hojas de C. sylvestris fueron inicialmente más palatables que las de F. luschnathiana, tal vez debido a su menor contenido de lignina y celulosa, y a su más baja relación Lignina:N. Estos compuestos estructurales le confieren rigidez a las hojas, las protegen de los herbívoros y las hacen más resistentes a los detritívoros. Sin embargo, la menor dureza de la hoja de F. luschnathiana facilitó la colonización fúngica, lo cual se reflejó, a su vez, en una mayor colonización por invertebrados trituradores y, en general, una mayor pérdida de masa. Los resultados sugieren que la descomposición de la hojarasca fue sensible a la biomasa fúngica y a la dureza de las hojas.Se observó que la colonización microbiana y la disminución de la dureza de las hojas tienen un efecto más fuerte sobre la colonización por invertebrados trituradores y sobre el proceso de descomposición que la calidad química inicial de la hojarasca. La comunidad fúngica es clave en los procesos de degradación en el medio acuático, ya que actúa en la descomposición de la hojarasca, aun en aquella de baja calidad (i.e., F. luschnathiana), promoviendo cambios también en la composición y en la estructura de la comunidad de invertebrados colonizadores.


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