Data from: Decay patterns of invasive plants and plastic trash in urban streams
Cite this dataset
Kennedy, Kimberly T. M.; El-Sabaawi, Rana W. (2019). Data from: Decay patterns of invasive plants and plastic trash in urban streams [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.46b47h1
Urban streams are impacted by invasion of exotic riparian plants and the accumulation of plastic trash, which alter in-stream litter subsidies, and cause changes that cascade up the aquatic food web. The impacts of these factors on urban streams is poorly understood. We compared decay rates and invertebrate colonizers of 5 litter pack types in 4 urban streams in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: Native Red alder (Alnus rubra) and Sitka willow (Salix sitchensis), invasive English ivy (Hedera sp.), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) and plastic trash (i.e. Styrofoam (polystyrene (PS)), plastic bag (high-density polyethylene (HDPE)), and Mylar (polyethylene terephthalate (PET). We tested 4 hypotheses: 1) exotic ivy and blackberry leaves would decay more slowly than native leaves; 2) exotic ivy and blackberry leaves would attract fewer and less diverse stream invertebrates than native leaves; 3) plastic trash would decay more slowly than leaves; and, 4) plastic trash would attract fewer and less diverse stream invertebrates than leaves. We found no difference between the leaf litter decay rates, however plastic trash decayed more slowly than leaves. Trash decay rates were faster than reported in marine environments, suggesting that plastic trash removal should be a management priority. Stream invertebrates colonized all pack types equally. We observed significant differences in litter decay rates and invertebrate assemblage alpha and Shannon–Wiener diversities across the 4 streams - likely related to differences in stream-specific environmental attributes including flashiness, stream discharge, and biological decay. We conclude that site-specific decay forces supersede litter quality in Pacific Coast urban streams.