Departmental Papers (EES)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

July 2000


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 downstream 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(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.


Copyright Cambridge University Press. Reprinted from Journal of Tropical Ecology, Volume 16, Number 4, July 2000, pages 499-516.

NOTE: At the time of publication, author Fred Scatena was affiliated with the USDA Forest Service. Currently (June 2006), he is a faculty member in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.



Date Posted: 23 June 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.