Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Stream pollution, detritus, decomposition, benthos, physiochemical properties, fish, water pollution effects, White river, Arkansas, city planning


Recently there has been much emphasis placed on the importance of leaf detritus processing to the energetics of stream invertebrates. This study was designed primarily to assess the effects of municipal effluent on the ability of a stream community to utilize leaf detritus, and secondarily to evaluate the extent of the pollution of the White River by the Fayetteville, Arkansas effluent discharge. Physical and chemical water quality, benthos, and fish were sampled periodically at one station upstream and two stations downstream from the discharge, and in the Richland Creek tributary. Processing of leaf detritus was studied at each site using 5 g packs of red oak (Quercus shumardi) leaves. Dissolved oxygen was far below recommended levels which resulted in a fish kill. Substantial increases in orthophosphate, ammonia, chlorides, conductivity and turbidity were observed downstream. Only 1 fish species (Morone chrysops) was collected downstream as it migrated through. The pattern of benthic species (25 immediately upstream, 8 just downstream, 17 downstream 8 km and 20 in a tributary) indicated heavy pollution. Despite this, leaf detritus processing rates were extremely rapid (K = 0.01-0.03) indicating that leaf decomposition is virtually unaffected by macroinvertebrates.

Report Number