Litter composition rather than plant presence affects decomposition of tropical litter mixtures

TitleLitter composition rather than plant presence affects decomposition of tropical litter mixtures
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsCoq S., Weigel J., Butenschoen O., Bonal D., Hättenschwiler S.
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume343
Issue1-2
Pagination273 - 286
Date Published2011///
KeywordsAmazonian lowland rainforest, Belowground/aboveground interactions, Litter decomposition, Nitrogen dynamic, Non-additive effect, Plant-soil feedback
TagsBelowground/aboveground interactions, Litter decomposition, Plant-soil feedback, Amazonian lowland rainforest, Nitrogen dynamic, Non-additive effect
Abstract

Litter decomposition is strongly controlled by litter quality, but the composition of litter mixtures and potential interactions with live plants through root activity may also influence decomposers. In a greenhouse experiment in French Guiana we studied the combined effects of the presence of tropical tree seedlings and of distinct litter composition on mass and nitrogen (N) loss from decomposing litter and on microbial biomass. Different litter mixtures decomposed for 435 days in pots filled with sand and containing an individual seedling from one of four different tree species. We found both additive and negative non-additive effects (NAE) of litter mixing on mass loss, whereas N loss showed negative and positive NAE of litter mixing. If litter from the two tree species, Platonia insignis and Goupia glabra were present, litter mixtures showed more positive and more negative NAE on N loss, respectively. Overall, decomposition, and in particular non-additive effects, were only weakly affected by the presence of tree seedlings. Litter mass loss weakly yet significantly decreased with increasing fine root biomass in presence of Goupia seedlings, but not in the presence of seedlings of any other tree species. Our results showed strong litter composition effects and also clear, mostly negative, non-additive effects on mass loss and N loss. Species identity of tree seedlings can modify litter decomposition, but these live plant effects remain quantitatively inferior to litter composition effects. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

URLhttp://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-79956151591&partnerID=40&md5=4424b80a6beff597e11055ec9305957a

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