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Early stage litter decomposition rates for Swiss forests


Heim, Alexander; Frey, Beat (2004). Early stage litter decomposition rates for Swiss forests. Biogeochemistry, 70(3):299-313.

Abstract

The decomposition of belowground and aboveground tree litter was studied on five forest sites across Switzerland, ranging from 480 to 1500 m in altitude, and including calcareous and acidic soils. In addition to decomposition of local litter types (Picea abies, Fagus sylvatica, Castanea sativa), the decomposition of a standard beech litter was studied on all sites. After 2years of decomposition, mass loss ranged from 18 to 71% across the different sites and litter types. The lowest decomposition rates were observed for beech roots, while mass loss was greatest for both spruce needles and spruce roots at the low-altitude site. Mass loss during the first winter correlated best with the content of water-soluble substances. After 1year of incubation, mass loss of the standard litter varied less than did mass loss of local litter, but variance increased during the second year for aboveground litter. These observations indicate a smaller climatic influence on litter breakdown at the beginning of the decomposition process. Litter mass loss could be described using an exponential model with a decay constant depending on either lignin/N ratio or Mn content of the litter and annual soil temperature and throughfall precipitation as climatic variables. Modelling the observed mass loss indicated a strong influence of litter quality in the first 2years of decomposition, confirming the field data from the standard litter experiment. The experiment will continue for some years and is expected to yield additional data on long-term decomposition

Abstract

The decomposition of belowground and aboveground tree litter was studied on five forest sites across Switzerland, ranging from 480 to 1500 m in altitude, and including calcareous and acidic soils. In addition to decomposition of local litter types (Picea abies, Fagus sylvatica, Castanea sativa), the decomposition of a standard beech litter was studied on all sites. After 2years of decomposition, mass loss ranged from 18 to 71% across the different sites and litter types. The lowest decomposition rates were observed for beech roots, while mass loss was greatest for both spruce needles and spruce roots at the low-altitude site. Mass loss during the first winter correlated best with the content of water-soluble substances. After 1year of incubation, mass loss of the standard litter varied less than did mass loss of local litter, but variance increased during the second year for aboveground litter. These observations indicate a smaller climatic influence on litter breakdown at the beginning of the decomposition process. Litter mass loss could be described using an exponential model with a decay constant depending on either lignin/N ratio or Mn content of the litter and annual soil temperature and throughfall precipitation as climatic variables. Modelling the observed mass loss indicated a strong influence of litter quality in the first 2years of decomposition, confirming the field data from the standard litter experiment. The experiment will continue for some years and is expected to yield additional data on long-term decomposition

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:National licences > 142-005
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Chemistry
Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Physical Sciences > Earth-Surface Processes
Language:English
Date:1 September 2004
Deposited On:19 Oct 2018 07:53
Last Modified:19 Jun 2024 01:53
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0168-2563
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-003-0844-5
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Description: Nationallizenz 142-005