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Environmental factors and traits that drive plant litter decomposition do not determine home-field advantage effects
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, The Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2015 (English)In: Functional Ecology, ISSN 0269-8463, E-ISSN 1365-2435, Vol. 29, no 7, 981-991 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The home-field advantage' (HFA) hypothesis predicts that plant litter ecomposed faster than expected underneath the plant from which it riginates (home') than underneath other plants (away'), because ecomposer communities are specialized to break down litter from the lants they associate with. However, empirical evidence shows that the ccurrence of HFA is highly variable, and the reasons for this are ittle understood. In our study, we progress our understanding by nvestigating whether HFA is stronger for more recalcitrant litter pes nd under colder conditions and how soil properties and plant nctional raits affect the magnitude and direction of HFA. In subarctic tundra orthern Sweden, we set up a reciprocal transplant litter decomposition xperiment along an elevational gradient where three highly contrasting egetation types (heath, meadow and Salix) occur at all elevations, and here temperature decreases strongly with elevation. In this study, we sed a litter bag approach where litters from each elevationxvegetation ype combination were decomposed in all combinations of levationxvegetation type. We also measured community-level plant unctional traits, such as leaf and litter nutrient content. We etermined soil biotic and abiotic properties, such as microbial omass nd soil nutrient content, in soil cores collected for each levationxvegetation type combination. We found that mass loss creased ith plant and litter nutrient content and with soil temperature. In ontrast, the occurrence of HFA was limited in our study system, and s agnitude and direction could not be explained by vegetation type, levation, plant traits or soil properties, despite these factors erving as powerful drivers of litter mass loss in our study. We onclude that although vegetation type and climate are major drivers of itter mass loss, they do not emerge as important determinants of HFA. herefore, while rapid shifts in plant community composition or emperature due to global change are likely to influence litter mass oss directly by altering environmental conditions, plant trait spectra nd litter quality, indirect effects of global change resulting from ecoupling of specialist interactions between litter and decomposer ommunities appear to be of less importance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 29, no 7, 981-991 p.
Keyword [en]
global change, incubation conditions, litter –decomposer interactio ns, nutrientcycling, specialization, substrate quality
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-107086DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12421ISI: 000357738300013OAI: diva2:855932
Available from: 2015-09-22 Created: 2015-08-18 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved

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Sundqvist, Maja K.
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Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences
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