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Brazilian Journal of Biology

Print version ISSN 1519-6984On-line version ISSN 1678-4375


MOULTON, T. P.  and  MAGALHAES, S. A. P.. Responses of leaf processing to impacts in streams in Atlantic rain Forest, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - a test of the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship?. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2003, vol.63, n.1, pp.87-95. ISSN 1519-6984.

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has been intensely debated and researched in recent times. It is generally agreed that there is redundancy of species in ecosystems such that loss of species does not necessarily result in change in the functioning of the ecosystem in which they occur. However the state of our knowledge does not allow prediction of sensitivity or specificity of this relationship for any particular ecosystem. A widely-held opinion is that ecosystem functioning is relatively stable to environmental impact, whereas biodiversity is more sensitive. We tested this in streams of the Atlantic forest using leaf decomposition as an aspect of ecosystem functioning and measuring the diversity of the associated fauna. In lightly impacted streams of the urban park Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca, RJ, leaf processing rate of a hard-leaf species, Myrcia rostrata (Myrtaceae) was more than 50% slower than in "intact" streams at the biological reserve of Ilha Grande, RJ. Taxon diversity of fauna of the leaves was not significantly lower in the impacted than the intact streams. We construe this as preliminary evidence contrary to the notion that ecosystem functioning is less sensitive than biodiversity to impacts in this system.

Keywords : ecosystem functioning; biodiversity; environmental impact; urban impact; stream; Atlantic rain forest; decomposition; leaf processing; macroinvertebrates.

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