Leaf decomposition in a mountain stream in the sultanate of Oman

Maha Al-Riyami, Reginald Victor, Sahadevan Seena, Abdulkadir E. Elshafie, Felix Bärlocher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Decomposition of Juglans regia leaves was studied in fine and coarse mesh bags in a permanent mountain stream in Oman. A rapid initial mass loss, attributed to leaching, was followed by a more gradual decline. Daily exponential decay rates (k) calculated over 32 days were 0.011 (fine mesh litter bags) and 0.014 (coarse mesh litter bags). The difference between bag types was not significant, suggesting limited impact of leaf-shredding invertebrates. Ergosterol levels on leaves from fine mesh bags peaked at 0.3 mg g-1 AFDM after 16 days of stream exposure. During the experimental period, which followed the annual leaf fall, the concentration of aquatic hyphomycete conidia in the stream varied between 82 and 1362 l-1. Based on the morphology of conidia found in the water column or released from leaves, we identified 14 species of aquatic hyphomycetes. Tetracladium apiense was the most common taxon (62.2% of conidia in water column during the field experiment). Three other Tetracladium species contributed another 8%. Plating out leaf particles yielded common epiphytic taxa such as Alternaria sp., Aureobasidium pullulans and Phoma sp. The measured metrics of leaf decay in this desert stream fall within the range of values observed in temperate and tropical streams, with clear evidence for an early leaching phase, and no evidence of a strong impact of leaf shredders. The community of aquatic hyphomycetes appears impoverished.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Review of Hydrobiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • Aquatic hyphomycetes
  • Desert stream
  • Tropics
  • Walnut

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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