Clear-cut logging of boreal riparian forests in northwestern Ontario, Canada shifted the composition of allochthonous leaf litter from largely coniferous to largely deciduous broadleaf. Because of rapid regrowth after tree harvesting, long-term changes in the composition rather than in the amount of allochthonous litterfall has been suggested as being the more serious environmental consequence of riparian deforestation. Macroinvertebrates within the littoral zones of four oligotrophic Canadian Shield lakes actively colonized leaf litter for both food and habitat. Food-related, early-stage (1 wk to 1 mo) colonization abundances were never significantly greater in coniferous (black spruce—Picea mariana, jack pine—Pinus banksiana, and eastern white cedar—Thuja occidentalis) litter than in deciduous (trembling aspen—Populus tremuloides, white birch—Betula papyrifera, and speckled alder—Alnus rugosa) litter. Late-stage (10 mo to 1 yr) colonization abundances were unrelated to differences in the breakdown rates of coniferous and deciduous litter. Therefore, shifts in tree species composition following riparian logging of boreal forests should not be detrimental to the long-term abundance of littoral macroinvertebrates colonizing terrestrial litter.
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Vol. 140 • No. 2