The introduction of bamboo to montane rain forests of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico in the 1930s and 1940s has led to present-day bamboo monocultures in numerous riparian areas. When a non-native species invades a riparian ecosystem, in-stream detritivores can be affected. Bamboo dynamics expected to influence stream communities in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) were examined. Based on current distributions, bamboo has spread down-stream at a rate of 8 m y-1. Mean growth rate of bamboo culms was 15.3 cm d-1. Leaf fall from bamboo stands exceeded that of native mixed-species forest by c. 30% over a 10-mo study. Bamboo leaves (k = -0.021), and leaves from another abundant riparian exotic, Syzygium jambos (Myrtaceae) (k = -0.018), decayed at relatively slow rates when submerged in streams in fine-mesh bags which excluded macro-invertebrate leaf processors. In a second study, with leaf processors present, bamboo decay rates remained unchanged (k = -0.021), while decay rates of S. jambos increased (k = -0.037). Elemental losses from bamboo leaves in streams were rapid, further suggesting a change in riparian zone/stream dynamics following bamboo invasion. As non-indigenous bamboos spread along Puerto Rico streams, they are likely to alter aquatic communities dependent on leaf input.
Additional publication details
Non-indigenous bamboo along headwater streams of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico: Leaf fall, aquatic leaf decay and patterns of invasion