manuscript 1 review - Summary This study set out to explore...

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Summary: This study set out to explore two main hypotheses. The first stated that shredder variability in tropical streams is related to altitude. The second stated that shredders do contribute significantly to leaf little breakdown and that it is related to leaf toughness. The investigators used a combination of field and laboratory studies to arrive at their conclusions. For the first hypothesis, six streams were selected in Panama and Australia. Various water quality parameters were measured along with altitude, stream width and depth, percent canopy cover, percent substrate cover, shredder abundance, and shredder diversity. Invertebrate species were identified as shredders by gut content analysis in Panama and diet descriptions by Cheshire et al. (2005) in Australia. Differences between the two regions were quantitatively compared and differences between tropical and temperate regions were qualitatively compared from previous studies. In order to test the second hypothesis a combination of lab and field studies were used to determine leaf decay rates as they relate to leaf toughness, region, shredder/microbe, and native/exotic. The researchers found that altitude had a marginally non-significant effect on abundance and diversity while if a potential outlier was excluded, found that altitude had a significant effect. They also stated that temperature is the most likely control over shredders. Shredder contribution to leaf breakdown was found to be lower than the microbial breakdown. However, the authors point out using references to other studies that this is highly variable both between regions (temperate vs. tropical) and likely varies with respect to numerous factors. Major Criticisms: My first major criticism of this study is the inconsistent, non-standard, non-scientific methods that were used to collect samples and analyze those samples to obtain data. Some of the defining characteristics of a scientific study are its reproducibility, objectivity, and quantitative nature.
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