Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

James Vonesh


Inputs from terrestrial habitats to aquatic habitats are important for structuring aquatic communities. Terrestrial producer diversity in the tropics may decline due to anthropogenic causes. I investigated how tree diversity affects aquatic communities. We used leaves from three timber-producing species (Dalbergia retusa, Pachira quinata, and Tectona grandis) to test the effects of leaf litter species composition and richness on invertebrate aquatic communities in Gamboa, Panama. We quantified macroinvertbrate species richness and abundances, leaf litter mass loss, and dissolved carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) after 4 weeks. We found that litter types differed in breakdown and C:N. Tectona grandis had lower dissolved C:N than both native species and supported the fewest number of invertebrates. C:N ratios declined with increasing litter diversity; however breakdown was not affected by litter richness. Mosquito abundance increased with litter species richness. Results of this study highlight the importance of diverse detritus in structuring aquatic treehole communities.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2012

Included in

Biology Commons