Browsing by Subject "litter decomposition"

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  • TeaComposition Network; Kwon, TaeOh; Shibata, Hideaki; Kepfer-Rojas, Sebastian; Schmidt, Inger K.; Larsen, Klaus S.; Beier, Claus; Berg, Björn; Verheyen, Kris; Lamarque, Jean-Francois; Hagedorn, Frank; Eisenhauer, Nico; Djukic, Ika; Loehr, John; Virkkala, Anna-Maria; Luoto, Miska (2021)
    Litter decomposition is a key process for carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and is mainly controlled by environmental conditions, substrate quantity and quality as well as microbial community abundance and composition. In particular, the effects of climate and atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition on litter decomposition and its temporal dynamics are of significant importance, since their effects might change over the course of the decomposition process. Within the TeaComposition initiative, we incubated Green and Rooibos teas at 524 sites across nine biomes. We assessed how macroclimate and atmospheric inorganic N deposition under current and predicted scenarios (RCP 2.6, RCP 8.5) might affect litter mass loss measured after 3 and 12 months. Our study shows that the early to mid-term mass loss at the global scale was affected predominantly by litter quality (explaining 73% and 62% of the total variance after 3 and 12 months, respectively) followed by climate and N deposition. The effects of climate were not litter-specific and became increasingly significant as decomposition progressed, with MAP explaining 2% and MAT 4% of the variation after 12 months of incubation. The effect of N deposition was litter-specific, and significant only for 12-month decomposition of Rooibos tea at the global scale. However, in the temperate biome where atmospheric N deposition rates are relatively high, the 12-month mass loss of Green and Rooibos teas decreased significantly with increasing N deposition, explaining 9.5% and 1.1% of the variance, respectively. The expected changes in macroclimate and N deposition at the global scale by the end of this century are estimated to increase the 12-month mass loss of easily decomposable litter by 1.1-3.5% and of the more stable substrates by 3.8-10.6%, relative to current mass loss. In contrast, expected changes in atmospheric N deposition will decrease the mid-term mass loss of high-quality litter by 1.4-2.2% and that of low-quality litter by 0.9-1.5% in the temperate biome. Our results suggest that projected increases in N deposition may have the capacity to dampen the climate-driven increases in litter decomposition depending on the biome and decomposition stage of substrate.
  • Kohl, Lukas; Myers-Pigg, Allison; Edwards, Kate A.; Billings, Sharon A.; Warren, Jamie; Podrebarac, Frances; Ziegler, Susan E. (2021)
    Plant litter chemistry is altered during decomposition but it remains unknown if these alterations, and thus the composition of residual litter, will change in response to climate. Selective microbial mineralization of litter components and the accumulation of microbial necromass can drive litter compositional change, but the extent to which these mechanisms respond to climate remains poorly understood. We addressed this knowledge gap by studying needle litter decomposition along a boreal forest climate transect. Specifically, we investigated how the composition and/or metabolism of the decomposer community varies with climate, and if that variation is associated with distinct modifications of litter chemistry during decomposition. We analyzed the composition of microbial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) in the litter layer and measured natural abundance δ13C-PLFA values as an integrated measure of microbial metabolisms. Changes in litter chemistry and δ13C values were measured in litterbag experiments conducted at each transect site. A warmer climate was associated with higher litter nitrogen concentrations as well as altered microbial community structure (lower fungi:bacteria ratios) and microbial metabolism (higher δ13C-PLFA). Litter in warmer transect regions accumulated less aliphatic-C (lipids, waxes) and retained more O-alkyl-C (carbohydrates), consistent with enhanced 13C-enrichment in residual litter, than in colder regions. These results suggest that chemical changes during litter decomposition will change with climate, driven primarily by indirect climate effects (e.g. greater nitrogen availability and decreased fungi:bacteria ratios) rather than direct temperature effects. A positive correlation between microbial biomass δ13C values and 13C-enrichment during decomposition suggests that change in litter chemistry is driven more by distinct microbial necromass inputs than differences in the selective removal of litter components. Our study highlights the role that microbial inputs during early litter decomposition can play in shaping surface litter contribution to soil organic matter as it responds to climate warming effects such as greater nitrogen availability.