New paper published – Biological and climatic controls on leaf litter decomposition across European forests and grasslands revealed by reciprocal litter transplantation experiments

Here´s another paper led by our recent PhD graduate Miguel, and co-authored by Ülo. This time they, and a bunch of other researchers carried out a litter transplatation experiment all over Europe in order to test how climate affects the decomposition of litter in both forests and grasslands.

Like expected, litter in warmer or wetter places decomposed at higher rate than in colder or dryer places, though surprisingly the process was not too much affected by litter species and soil type, like expected.

The paper is published in a journal called Biogeosciences Discussions, which has a rather strange layout for a science journal. Yet one of the quickest handling rates (~ 3 weeks) I´ve seen – way less than six weeks which has been considered as the absolute minimum for how long the peer-review process should take (link).

Full citation: Portillo-Estrada, M., Pihlatie, M., Korhonen, J. F. J., Levula, J., Frumau, A. K. F., Ibrom, A., Lembrechts, J. J., Morillas, L., Horváth, L., Jones, S. K., and Niinemets, Ü.: Biological and climatic controls on leaf litter decomposition across European forests and grasslands revealed by reciprocal litter transplantation experiments, Biogeosciences Discuss., 12, 18053-18084, doi:10.5194/bgd-12-18053-2015, 2015. (link to full text)

Leaf litter (pic from a dead and decomposing blog AhmedENB150)

Abstract:

Projection of carbon and nitrogen cycles to future climates is associated with large uncertainties , in particular due to uncertainties how changes in climate alter soil turnover, including litter decomposition. In addition, future conditions are expected to result in changes in vegetation composition, and accordingly in litter type and quality, but it is 5 unclear how such changes could potentially alter litter decomposition. Litter transplan-tation experiments were carried out across 6 European sites (4 forest and 2 grasslands) spanning a large geographical and climatic gradient (5.6–11.4 • C in annual temperature 511–878 mm in precipitation) to gain insight into biological (litter origin and type, soil type) and climatic controls on litter decomposition. 10 The decomposition k rates were overall higher in warmer and wetter sites than in colder and drier sites, and positively correlated to the litter total specific leaf area. Also, litter N content increased as less litter mass remained and decay went further. Surprisingly, this study demonstrates that climatic controls on litter decomposition are quantitatively more important than species, litter origin and soil type. Cumulative cli-15 matic variables, precipitation and air temperature (ignoring days with air temperatures below 0 • C), were appropriate to predict the litter remaining mass during decomposition (M r). And M r and cumulative air temperature were found to be the best predictors for litter carbon and nitrogen remaining during decomposition. We concluded with an equation for predicting the decomposition k rate by using mean annual air temperature 20 and litter total specific leaf area.

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One Response to New paper published – Biological and climatic controls on leaf litter decomposition across European forests and grasslands revealed by reciprocal litter transplantation experiments

  1. Pingback: Our lab´s publications in 2015 | Ülo Niinemets’ Lab

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