Plant functional group controls litter decomposition rate and its temperature sensitivity: An incubation experiment on litters from a boreal peatland in northeast China

Rong Mao, Xinhou Zhang, Changchun Song, Xianwei Wang, Patrick M. Finnegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In boreal peatlands, litter decomposition plays an important role in modulating ecosystem carbon (C) cycling and nutrient turnover. However, how climate warming and plant functional group interact to affect litter decomposition is still unclear in these ecosystems. Here, we collected fresh litters of six plant functional groups (nitrogen (N)-fixing species, deciduous tree, deciduous shrub, evergreen shrub, graminoid, and Sphagnum moss) from a boreal peatland located in northeast China. A laboratory incubation experiment was used to determine the effect of temperature (10 °C vs. 20 °C) on microbial respiration and mass loss during decomposition. Among the six functional groups, the litters of N-fixing species and deciduous shrub, followed by deciduous tree, generally had the greatest mass losses and microbial respiration rates, whereas the Sphagnum moss decomposed with the slowest rate at both incubation temperatures. Increasing incubation temperature from 10 °C to 20 °C, microbial respiration rate and mass loss increased slightly for Sphagnum moss litters (25% and 19%, respectively), but increased dramatically for vascular plant litters (84–135% and 49–85%, respectively). For litters from vascular plants, both decomposition rate and temperature sensitivity showed a tight linear correlation with the initial C:N and C:phosphorus ratios. Considering that climate warming will cause increased dominance of woody plant species coupled with decreased cover by Sphagnum mosses, this study provides clear evidence that climate warming and the associated changes to vegetation community composition can synergistically accelerate plant litter decomposition in boreal peatlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-683
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume626
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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peatland
Functional groups
functional group
litter
incubation
decomposition
Decomposition
moss
experiment
temperature
Experiments
Ecosystems
Temperature
respiration
shrub
warming
deciduous tree
vascular plant
climate
Phosphorus

Cite this

@article{50777cf6dbd84898bd80cb3a6c69ef12,
title = "Plant functional group controls litter decomposition rate and its temperature sensitivity: An incubation experiment on litters from a boreal peatland in northeast China",
abstract = "In boreal peatlands, litter decomposition plays an important role in modulating ecosystem carbon (C) cycling and nutrient turnover. However, how climate warming and plant functional group interact to affect litter decomposition is still unclear in these ecosystems. Here, we collected fresh litters of six plant functional groups (nitrogen (N)-fixing species, deciduous tree, deciduous shrub, evergreen shrub, graminoid, and Sphagnum moss) from a boreal peatland located in northeast China. A laboratory incubation experiment was used to determine the effect of temperature (10 °C vs. 20 °C) on microbial respiration and mass loss during decomposition. Among the six functional groups, the litters of N-fixing species and deciduous shrub, followed by deciduous tree, generally had the greatest mass losses and microbial respiration rates, whereas the Sphagnum moss decomposed with the slowest rate at both incubation temperatures. Increasing incubation temperature from 10 °C to 20 °C, microbial respiration rate and mass loss increased slightly for Sphagnum moss litters (25{\%} and 19{\%}, respectively), but increased dramatically for vascular plant litters (84–135{\%} and 49–85{\%}, respectively). For litters from vascular plants, both decomposition rate and temperature sensitivity showed a tight linear correlation with the initial C:N and C:phosphorus ratios. Considering that climate warming will cause increased dominance of woody plant species coupled with decreased cover by Sphagnum mosses, this study provides clear evidence that climate warming and the associated changes to vegetation community composition can synergistically accelerate plant litter decomposition in boreal peatlands.",
keywords = "Litter decomposition, Peatland, Plant functional group, Sphagnum, Temperature sensitivity",
author = "Rong Mao and Xinhou Zhang and Changchun Song and Xianwei Wang and Finnegan, {Patrick M.}",
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Plant functional group controls litter decomposition rate and its temperature sensitivity : An incubation experiment on litters from a boreal peatland in northeast China. / Mao, Rong; Zhang, Xinhou; Song, Changchun; Wang, Xianwei; Finnegan, Patrick M.

In: Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 626, 01.06.2018, p. 678-683.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Plant functional group controls litter decomposition rate and its temperature sensitivity

T2 - An incubation experiment on litters from a boreal peatland in northeast China

AU - Mao, Rong

AU - Zhang, Xinhou

AU - Song, Changchun

AU - Wang, Xianwei

AU - Finnegan, Patrick M.

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N2 - In boreal peatlands, litter decomposition plays an important role in modulating ecosystem carbon (C) cycling and nutrient turnover. However, how climate warming and plant functional group interact to affect litter decomposition is still unclear in these ecosystems. Here, we collected fresh litters of six plant functional groups (nitrogen (N)-fixing species, deciduous tree, deciduous shrub, evergreen shrub, graminoid, and Sphagnum moss) from a boreal peatland located in northeast China. A laboratory incubation experiment was used to determine the effect of temperature (10 °C vs. 20 °C) on microbial respiration and mass loss during decomposition. Among the six functional groups, the litters of N-fixing species and deciduous shrub, followed by deciduous tree, generally had the greatest mass losses and microbial respiration rates, whereas the Sphagnum moss decomposed with the slowest rate at both incubation temperatures. Increasing incubation temperature from 10 °C to 20 °C, microbial respiration rate and mass loss increased slightly for Sphagnum moss litters (25% and 19%, respectively), but increased dramatically for vascular plant litters (84–135% and 49–85%, respectively). For litters from vascular plants, both decomposition rate and temperature sensitivity showed a tight linear correlation with the initial C:N and C:phosphorus ratios. Considering that climate warming will cause increased dominance of woody plant species coupled with decreased cover by Sphagnum mosses, this study provides clear evidence that climate warming and the associated changes to vegetation community composition can synergistically accelerate plant litter decomposition in boreal peatlands.

AB - In boreal peatlands, litter decomposition plays an important role in modulating ecosystem carbon (C) cycling and nutrient turnover. However, how climate warming and plant functional group interact to affect litter decomposition is still unclear in these ecosystems. Here, we collected fresh litters of six plant functional groups (nitrogen (N)-fixing species, deciduous tree, deciduous shrub, evergreen shrub, graminoid, and Sphagnum moss) from a boreal peatland located in northeast China. A laboratory incubation experiment was used to determine the effect of temperature (10 °C vs. 20 °C) on microbial respiration and mass loss during decomposition. Among the six functional groups, the litters of N-fixing species and deciduous shrub, followed by deciduous tree, generally had the greatest mass losses and microbial respiration rates, whereas the Sphagnum moss decomposed with the slowest rate at both incubation temperatures. Increasing incubation temperature from 10 °C to 20 °C, microbial respiration rate and mass loss increased slightly for Sphagnum moss litters (25% and 19%, respectively), but increased dramatically for vascular plant litters (84–135% and 49–85%, respectively). For litters from vascular plants, both decomposition rate and temperature sensitivity showed a tight linear correlation with the initial C:N and C:phosphorus ratios. Considering that climate warming will cause increased dominance of woody plant species coupled with decreased cover by Sphagnum mosses, this study provides clear evidence that climate warming and the associated changes to vegetation community composition can synergistically accelerate plant litter decomposition in boreal peatlands.

KW - Litter decomposition

KW - Peatland

KW - Plant functional group

KW - Sphagnum

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DO - 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.01.162

M3 - Article

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EP - 683

JO - Science of the Total Environment

JF - Science of the Total Environment

SN - 0048-9697

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