Throughout autumn, tree-lined waterways receive a welcome addition as leaves fall, dumping nutrients that help sustain all levels of biodiversity through the tough winter months. Sugar, pigments, and other organic materials begin to leach out from the leaves as they fall into the water and collect into leaf matts. In-stream microbes such as bacteria and fungi receive immediate benefits. Eventually, shredder insects begin to physically break down the leaves, allowing for small rotting leaf particles to drift downstream and feed all sorts of aquatic insects. With a thriving aquatic insect population, trout will have plenty to eat as their population receives benefit from the leaves as well. Even though the annual leaf fall signals the end of healthy, green leaves, the leaves will now be recycled into the next ecosystem to play a fundamental role in maintaining healthy trout populations.
Taken from Potomac Headwaters Iniative – Trout Unlimited Facebook page