Background and Aims: Nutrients derived from the carcasses of Pacific salmon have been shown to have wide-ranging effects on riparian systems. These include changes in community species composition and an increase in leaf nitrogen concentration, with the latter effect pronounced in the nitriphilic shrub Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry). Experimental work with other species has shown that leaf stomatal density increases in response to nitrogen fertilization. Therefore, we predicted that the stomatal density of salmonberry leaves would vary directly with the density of spawning salmon in salmonberry leaves collected from 16 streams in the vicinity of Bella Bella, on British Columbia’s central coast. We estimated the stomatal density along each stream, and quantified stream characteristics, including the number of spawning salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), canopy cover, stem density and soil moisture.
Key results: We found that salmon have both direct and indirect effects on stomatal density, the latter mediated by canopy cover and stem density. Salmonberry stomatal density increased by 1.12 stomata per mm-2 (~0.5%) for every kg of salmon per meter of stream. Over the range of salmon densities observed (1.8 – 49.0 kg per meter of stream) stomatal density increased by almost 45 mm-2, or more than 20%.
Conclusion: These data confirm that the stomatal density in salmonberry responds positively to the opportunity for greater productivity provided by salmon carcasses. The data provide insight into the physiological and morphological processes supporting nitrogen uptake, which in turn influences plant community composition.
|Date made available||24 Aug 2018|
|Geographical coverage||Northwestern Canada, Great Bear Rainforest|