Patterns of fungal colonization, mass loss and biochemical changes during the decomposition of predried and fresh (naturally fallen) leaves of Rhizophora mucronata were studied in a southwest mangrove of India. Dried and fresh leaves in litter bags were introduced at the mid-tide zone and retrieved after 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 12 and 14 weeks. On incubation in the laboratory, a total of 5 ascomycetes and 18 anamorphic fungi were recorded. The majority of anamorphic taxa were natural inhabitants of the phyllosphere of senescent leaves. Following two weeks of exposure, they were largely replaced by marine fungi (ascomycetes and anamorphic fungi). More taxa were recovered from dried than from fresh leaves, and predrying accelerated the initial rate of mass loss. Ergosterol levels were much lower than those reported from vascular plant detritus exposed in other aquatic habitats. Both ergosterol and nitrogen levels peaked after between 4 weeks and 8 weeks of exposure; ergosterol levels subsequently declined, while nitrogen remained stable in predried leaves and fell in fresh leaves. The dynamics of remaining mass for the first 8 weeks of exposure were best described by a double-exponential decay model. The decay rate then appeared to accelerate, and the second phase was best described by a single exponential decay model. The apparent breakpoint coincided with an increase in the salinity of the mangrove swamp.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law