Influência da estrutura da vegetação de um fragmento florestal nas características físicas e químicas da água e no funcionamento do ecossistema de um córrego rural
Fernandes, Janaina de Fátima
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Riparian ecosystems are being rapidly degraded due to deforestation for conversion of natural areas to agriculture, pasture, and urban development. In rural areas, riparian forest remnants can be very important for biodiversity conservation and for the maintenance and improvement of water physical and chemical characteristics as the deforested stream passes through these remnants. Here, we evaluated whether distance from the forest edge and forest structure influenced stream water physical and chemical characteristics and leaf breakdown rates, a measure of ecosystem function. Sampling was carried out from 150 m outside the remnant until 600 m inside the forest remnant. Water physical and chemical characteristics, leaf breakdown rates and riparian forest structure were evaluated at 50 m intervals until 300 m inside the remnant, and then each 100 m. Forest structure was evaluated by mean diameter at breast height, total basal area, mean canopy height, tree stratification, and tree density per plot; the variables were later reduced to the first two axes of a Principal Components Analysis (PCA), representing two gradients, 1) forest stratification vs. tree size, and 2) tree density vs. basal area. Electric conductivity and ammonium concentrations reduced as the stream passed through the remnant, whereas dissolved oxygen, total phosphorus, total dissolved P, organic P, silicate concentrations, and leaf breakdown rates increased along the remnant, as determined by first-order exponential models. Residual variation of these models was regressed against the first two PCA axes of forest structure. More stratified parts of the forest, with smaller trees, resulted in lower electric conductivity values and concentrations of total nitrogen and nitrite, whereas higher density of trees resulted in lower levels of total and dissolved P, but higher rates of leaf breakdown. This suggests that the distribution of fragments with different qualities of forest, with different structures possibly influences the quality of the water stream on a scale of watersheds.