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The biogeochemical consequences of litter transformation by insect herbivory in the Subarctic: a microcosm simulation experiment
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
2018 (English)In: Biogeochemistry, ISSN 0168-2563, E-ISSN 1573-515X, Vol. 138, no 3, p. 323-336Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Warming may increase the extent and intensity of insect defoliations within Arctic ecosystems. A thorough understanding of the implications of this for litter decomposition is essential to make predictions of soil-atmosphere carbon (C) feedbacks. Soil nitrogen (N) and C cycles naturally are interlinked, but we lack a detailed understanding of how insect herbivores impact these cycles. In a laboratory microcosm study, we investigated the growth responses of heterotrophic soil fungi and bacteria as well as C and N mineralisation to simulated defoliator outbreaks (frass addition), long-term increased insect herbivory (litter addition at higher background N-level) and non-outbreak conditions (litter addition only) in soils from a Subarctic birch forest. Larger amounts of the added organic matter were mineralised in the outbreak simulations compared to a normal year; yet, the fungal and bacterial growth rates and biomass were not significantly different. In the simulation of long-term increased herbivory, less litter C was respired per unit mineralised N (C:N of mineralisation decreased to 20 +/- 1 from 38 +/- 3 for pure litter), which suggests a directed microbial mining for N-rich substrates. This was accompanied by higher fungal dominance relative to bacteria and lower total microbial biomass. In conclusion, while a higher fraction of foliar C will be respired by insects and microbes during outbreak years, predicted long-term increases in herbivory linked to climate change may facilitate soil C-accumulation, as less foliar C is respired per unit mineralised N. Further work elucidating animal-plant-soil interactions is needed to improve model predictions of C-sink capacity in high latitude forest ecosystems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2018. Vol. 138, no 3, p. 323-336
Keywords [en]
Subarctic birch forest, soil respiration, nitrogen mineralisation, soil microbial ecology, herbivory, biogeochemistry
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-149026DOI: 10.1007/s10533-018-0448-8ISI: 000433339900006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85046488756OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-149026DiVA, id: diva2:1218693
Note

Correction: Kristensen, J.A., Metcalfe, D.B., Rousk, J. The biogeochemical consequences of litter transformation by insect herbivory in the Subarctic: a microcosm simulation experiment. Biogeochemistry. 2018;138:337. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-018-0451-0

Available from: 2018-06-14 Created: 2018-06-14 Last updated: 2018-06-15Bibliographically approved

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