Resource heterogeneity in the lake littoral zones and streams often takes the form of leaf litter diversity. Since resource quality varies between leaf species, diversity of leaf litter inputs to these systems may alter detritivore dynamics. We challenged the assumption that stream detritivores view their leaf resources independently, and that shredder colonization dynamics were additive. We developed a null model that suggests the temporal coefficient of variation in abundance of detritivores declines as leaf diversity increases. We then conducted an experiment in which leaf composition was manipulated in a stream and shredder abundance was followed. Shredder stability was low on single leaf species, increased at intermediate levels, then declined at maximum levels. The null model did not predict the low stability observed, suggesting other ecological factors influenced shredder abundance. Non-additive patterns in colonization support the notion that leaf diversity leads to emergent properties, altering consumer dynamics in this ecosystem.