, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 429–433

Biodiversity and decomposition in experimental grassland ecosystems

DOI: 10.1007/s004420000537

Cite this article as:
, & Oecologia (2001) 126: 429. doi:10.1007/s004420000537


We examined the impact of biodiversity on litter decomposition in an experiment that manipulated plant species richness. Using biomass originating from the experimental species richness gradient and from a species used as a common substrate, we measured rates of decomposition in litterbags in two locations: in situ in the experiment plots and in an adjacent common garden. This allowed us to separate the effects of litter quality and decomposition location on decomposition. We found that plant species richness had a significant, but minor negative effect on the quality (nitrogen concentration) of the biomass. Neither litter type nor location had a consistent effect on the rate of carbon and nitrogen loss over a 1-year period. Thus, the increased productivity and corresponding lower soil available nitrogen levels observed in high diversity plots do not lead to faster litter decomposition or faster nitrogen turnover. This supports the hypothesis that increased productivity corresponding with higher species richness results in increased litter production, higher standing litter pools and a negative feedback on productivity, because of an increased standing nitrogen pool in the litter.

Biodiversity Decomposition Mixed litterbags Nitrogen cycling 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 348 Manter Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
  2. 2.School of Natural Resource Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA

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