Periphyton response to riparian canopy opening and salmon carcass addition in coastal streams of northern California was evaluated in a manipulative field experiment. The experiment followed a split-plot design, with streams as whole plots and two 100-m reaches in each of 6 streams as subplots. At the subplot level, riparian hardwoods were removed from one reach in each stream. At the whole-plot level, carcasses were added to both open- and closed-canopy reaches of 3 of the streams. Thus, treatments consisted of reaches with open or closed canopies, in the presence and absence of carcasses. Nutrient limitation of the periphyton was assessed in 2 streams (1 with carcasses and 1 without carcasses) using nutrient-diffusing clay saucers (N-enriched, P-enriched, N P-enriched, or unenriched control) incubated in open- and closed-canopy reaches in the streams. Canopy and carcass treatments did not affect gross primary productivity or periphyton biomass on natural substrates. The periphyton assemblage consisted primarily of diatoms in all reaches on all dates. N amendment of agar in nutrient-diffusing, clay saucers and canopy removal increased biofilm ash-free dry mass on the saucers, but carcass introduction did not. Failure of periphyton to respond to carcass addition may have reflected overriding light limitation, inadequate within-stream retention of carcass nutrients, and/or limitations of the study design.
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