Impacts of detritivore diversity loss on instream decomposition are greatest in the tropics

Luz Boyero, Naiara Lopez-Rojo, Alan M. Tonin, Javier Perez, Francisco Correa-Araneda, Richard G. Pearson, Jaime Bosch, Ricardo J. Albarino, Sankarappan Anbalagan, Leon A. Barmuta, Ana Basaguren, Francis J. Burdon, Adriano Caliman, Marcos Callisto, Adolfo R. Calor, Ian C. Campbell, Bradley J. Cardinale, J. Jesus Casas, Ana M. Chara-Serna, Eric ChauvetSzymon Ciapala, Checo Colon-Gaud, Aydee Cornejo, Aaron M. Davis, Monika Degebrodt, Emerson S. Dias, Maria E. Diaz, Michael M. Douglas, Andrea C. Encalada, Ricardo Figueroa, Alexander S. Flecker, Tadeusz Fleituch, Erica A. Garcia, Gabriela Garcia, Pavel E. Garcia, Mark O. Gessner, Jesus E. Gomez, Sergio Gomez, Jose F. Goncalves, Manuel A. S. Graca, Daniel C. Gwinn, Robert O. Hall, Neusa Hamada, Cang Hui, Daichi Imazawa, Tomoya Iwata, Samuel K. Kariuki, Andrea Landeira-Dabarca, Kelsey Laymon, Maria Leal, Richard Marchant, Renato T. Martins, Frank O. Masese, Megan Maul, Brendan G. McKie, Adriana O. Medeiros, Charles M. M' Erimba, Jen A. Middleton, Silvia Monroy, Timo Muotka, Junjiro N. Negishi, Alonso Ramirez, John S. Richardson, Jose Rincon, Juan Rubio-Rios, Gisele M. dos Santos, Romain Sarremejane, Fran Sheldon, Augustine Sitati, Nathalie S. D. Tenkiano, Scott D. Tiegs, Janine R. Tolod, Michael Venarsky, Anne Watson, Catherine M. Yule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between detritivore diversity and decomposition can provide information on how biogeochemical cycles are affected by ongoing rates of extinction, but such evidence has come mostly from local studies and microcosm experiments. We conducted a globally distributed experiment (38 streams across 23 countries in 6 continents) using standardised methods to test the hypothesis that detritivore diversity enhances litter decomposition in streams, to establish the role of other characteristics of detritivore assemblages (abundance, biomass and body size), and to determine how patterns vary across realms, biomes and climates. We observed a positive relationship between diversity and decomposition, strongest in tropical areas, and a key role of abundance and biomass at higher latitudes. Our results suggest that litter decomposition might be altered by detritivore extinctions, particularly in tropical areas, where detritivore diversity is already relatively low and some environmental stressors particularly prevalent. It is unclear whether stream detritivore diversity enhances decomposition across climates. Here the authors manipulate litter diversity and examine detritivore assemblages in a globally distributed stream litterbag experiment, finding a positive diversity-decomposition relationship stronger in tropical streams, where detritivore diversity is lower.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3700
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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