No evidence for functional litter diversity effects on litter decomposition, fungal decomposers and nutrient immobilization
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning theory suggests that litter mixtures composed of dissimilar leaf species can enhance decomposition due to species trait complementarity. Here we create a continuous gradient of litter chemistry trait variability within species mixtures to assess effects of litter dissimilarity on three related processes in a natural stream: litter decomposition, fungal biomass accrual in the litter, and nitrogen and phosphorus immobilization. Litter from a pool of eight leaf species was analyzed for chemistry traits affecting decomposition (lignin, nitrogen, and phosphorus) and assembled in all of the 28 possible two-species combinations. Litter dissimilarity was characterized in terms of a range of functional diversity measures, using Euclidean and Gower distances and dendrogram-based indices. Despite favorable experimental conditions for litter dissimilarity effects to arise, we found no significant relationships between decomposition rate of individual leaf species and litter functional dissimilarity, irrespective of whether decomposition was mediated by microbes alone or by both microbes and litter-consuming invertebrates. Likewise, no effects of functional dissimilarity emerged on either fungal biomass accrual or changes during decomposition of nitrogen or phosphorus concentrations in individual leaf species. These results provide support for the contention that litter diversity effects on decomposition in streams are less pronounced than in forest environments, and in particular are less common than effects on terrestrial primary productivity. Key to understanding these discrepancies may be the constant supply of nutrients provided by the flowing water in streams, exacerbated by very large-scale cultural nutrient enrichment of surface waters in many parts of the world.
biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, functional plant litter traits, detritus breakdown, ergosterol fungal biomass, nitrogen immobilization, phosphorus dynamics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82898OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-82898DiVA: diva2:663862