Oecologia

, Volume 173, Issue 1, pp 269–280 | Cite as

Leaf litter quality drives litter mixing effects through complementary resource use among detritivores

  • Veronique C. A. Vos
  • Jasper van Ruijven
  • Matty P. Berg
  • Edwin T. H. M. Peeters
  • Frank Berendse
Ecosystem Ecology - Original Research

Abstract

To comprehend the potential consequences of biodiversity loss on the leaf litter decomposition process, a better understanding of its underlying mechanisms is necessary. Here, we hypothesize that positive litter mixture effects occur via complementary resource use, when litter species complement each other in terms of resource quality for detritivores. To investigate this, monocultures and mixtures of two leaf litter species varying in quality were allowed to decompose with and without a single macro-detritivore species (the terrestrial woodlice Oniscus asellus). Resource quality of the mixture was assessed by the mean concentration, the dissimilarity in absolute and relative concentrations, and the covariance between nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) supply. Our results clearly show that litter mixing effects were driven by differences in their resource quality for detritivores. In particular, complementary supply of N and P was a major driver of litter mixing effects. Interestingly, litter mixing effects caused by the addition of woodlice were predominantly driven by N dissimilarity, whereas in their absence, increased P concentration was the main driver of litter mixing effects. These results show that ultimately, litter diversity effects on decomposition may be driven by complementary resource use of the whole decomposer community (i.e., microbes and macro-detritivores).

Keywords

Functional diversity Woodlice Leaf litter decomposition Leaf litter mixing effects Macro-detritivores Additive partitioning Nutrient covariance Trait dissimilarity 

Supplementary material

442_2012_2588_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (90 kb)
Supplementary material S1 (PDF 89 kb)

References

  1. Aarssen LW (1997) High productivity in grassland ecosystems: affected by species diversity or productive species? Oikos 80:183–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson JM (1988) Spatiotemporal effects of invertebrates on soil processes. Biol Fertil Soils 6:216–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernays EA, Bright KL, Gonzalez N, Angel J (1994) Dietary mixing in a generalist herbivore: test of two hypotheses. Ecology 75:1997–2006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cárcamo HA, Abe TA, Prescott CE, Holl FB, Chanway CP (2000) Influence of millipedes on litter decomposition, N mineralization and microbial communities in a coastal forest in British Columbia, Canada. Can J For Res 30:817–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cardinale BJ, Srivastava DS, Duffy JE, Wright JP, Downing AL, Sankaran M, Jouseau C (2006) Effects of biodiversity on the functioning of trophic groups and ecosystems. Nature 443:989–992PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman K, Whittaker JB, Heal OW (1988) Metabolic and faunal activity in litters of tree mixtures compared with pure stands. Agric Ecosyst Environ 24:33–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. de Oliveira TD, Hättenschwiler S, Handa IT (2010) Snail and millipede complementarity in decomposing Mediterranean forest leaf litter mixtures. Funct Ecol 24:937–946CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dudgeon D, Ma HHT, Lam PKS (1990) Differential palatability of leaf litter to four sympatric isopods in a Hong Kong forest. Oecologia 84:398–403Google Scholar
  9. Elser JJ, Acharya K, Kyle M, Cotner J, Makino W, Markow T, Watts T, Hobbie SE, Fagan W, Schade J, Hood J, Sterner RW (2003) Growth rate-stoichiometry couplings in diverse biota. Ecol Lett 6:936–943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Elser JJ, Bracken MES, Cleland EE, Gruner DS, Harpole WS, Hillebrand H, Ngai JT, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith J (2007) Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol Lett 12:1135–1142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gartner TB, Cardon ZG (2004) Decomposition dynamics in mixed-species leaf litter. Oikos 104:230–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gessner MO, Swan CM, Dang CK, McKie BG, Bardgett RD, Wall DH, Hättenschwiler S (2010) Diversity meets decomposition. Trends Ecol Evol 25:372–380PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Graham MH (2003) Confronting multicolinearity in ecological multiple regression. Ecology 84:2809–2815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hättenschwiler S, Bretscher D (2001) Isopod effects on decomposition of litter produced under elevated CO2, N deposition and different soil types. Glob Change Biol 7:565–579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hättenschwiler S, Jørgensen HB (2010) Carbon quality rather than stoichiometry controls litter decomposition in a tropical rain forest. J Ecol 98:754–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hättenschwiler S, Tiunov AV, Scheu S (2005a) Biodiversity and litter decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 36:191–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hättenschwiler S, Gasser P, Field CB (2005b) Soil animals alter plant litter diversity effects on decomposition. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:1519–1524PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hector A, Beale AJ, Minns A, Otway SJ, Lawton JH (2000) Consequences of the reduction of plant diversity for litter decomposition: effects through litter quality and microenvironment. Oikos 90:357–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heemsbergen DA, Berg MP, Loreau M, van Hal JR, Faber JH, Verhoef HA (2004) Biodiversity effects on soil processes explained by interspecific functional dissimilarity. Science 306:1019–1020PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huston MA (1997) Hidden treatments in ecological experiments: re-evaluating the ecosystem function of biodiversity. Oecologia 110:449–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Loreau M, Hector A (2001) Partitioning selection and complementarity in biodiversity experiments. Nature 412:72–76PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Madritch MD, Cardinale BJ (2007) Impacts of tree species diversity on litter decomposition in northern temperate forests of Wisconsin, USA: a multi-site experiment along a latitudinal gradient. Plant Soil 292:147–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Maraun M, Scheu S (1996) Changes in microbial biomass, respiration and nutrient status of Beech (Fagus sylvatica) leaf litter processed by millipedes (Glomeris marginata). Oecologia 107:131–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Meier CL, Bowman WD (2008) Phenolic-rich leaf carbon fractions differentially influence microbial respiration and plant growth. Oecologia 158:95–107Google Scholar
  25. Novozamsky I, Houba VJG, van Eck R, van Vark W (1983) A novel digestion technique for multi-element plant analysis. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 14:239–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. O’Brien R (2007) A caution regarding rules of thumb for variance inflation factors. Qual Quant 41:673–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pérez-Harguindeguy N, Blundo CM, Gurvich DE, Díaz S, Cuevas E (2008) More than the sum of its parts? Assessing litter heterogeneity effects on decomposition of litter mixtures through leaf chemistry. Plant Soil 303:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Salamanca EF, Kaneko N, Katagiri S (1998) Effects of leaf litter mixtures on the decomposition of Quercus serrata and Pinus densiflora using field and laboratory microcosm methods. Ecol Eng 10:53–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schädler M, Brandl R (2005) Do invertebrate decomposers affect the disappearance rate of leaf litter mixtures? Soil Biol Biochem 37:329–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schimel JP, Hattenschwiler S (2007) Nitrogen transfer between decomposing leaves of different N status. Soil Biol Biochem 39:1428–1436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Swan CM, Palmer MA (2006) Preferential feeding by an aquatic consumer mediates non-additive decomposition of speciose leaf litter. Oecologia 149:107–114PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Swift MJ, Boddy L (1984) Animal–microbial interactions in wood decomposition. In: Anderson JM, Rayner ADM, Walton DWH (eds) Invertebrate–microbial interactions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 89–131Google Scholar
  33. Swift MJ, Heal OW, Anderson JM (1979) Decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  34. Talbot JM, Yelle DJ, Nowick J, Treseder KK (2011) Litter decay rates are determined by lignin chemistry. Biogeochemistry 108:279–295Google Scholar
  35. Tilman D (1997) Distinguishing the effects of species diversity and species composition. Oikos 80:185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tiunov AV (2009) Particle size alters litter diversity effects on decomposition. Soil Biol Biochem 41:176–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Visser S (1986) The role of the soil invertebrates in determining the composition of soil microbial communities. In: Fitter AH (ed) Ecological interactions in the soil environment. Plants, microbes and animals. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 297–317Google Scholar
  38. Vos VCA, van Ruijven J, Berg MP, Peeters ETHM, Berendse F (2011) Macro-detritivore identity drives leaf litter diversity effects. Oikos 120:1092–1098CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wall DH, Bradford MA, St. John MG, Trofymow JA, Behan-Pelletier V, Bignell DE, Dangerfield JM, Parton WJ, Rusek J, Voigt W, Wolters V, Gardel HZ, Ayuke FO, Bashford R, Beljakova OI, Bohlen PJ, Brauman A, Flemming S, Henschel JR, Johnson DL, Jones TH, Kovarova M, Kranabetter JM, Kutny LES, Lin K, Maryati M, Masse D, Pokarzhevskii A, Rahman H, Sabará Millor G, Salamon J, Swift MJ, Varela A, Vasconcelos HL, White DON, Zou X (2008) Global decomposition experiment shows soil animal impacts on decomposition are climate-dependent. Glob Change Biol 14:661–2677Google Scholar
  40. Wardle DA (1997) Biodiversity and plant litter: experimental evidence which does not support the view that enhanced species richness improves ecosystem function. Oikos 79:247–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. White TCR (1993) The inadequate environment: nitrogen and the abundance of animals. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Whittingham MJ, Stephens PA, Bradbury RB, Freckleton RP (2006) Why do we still use stepwise modelling in ecology and behaviour? J Anim Ecol 75:1182–1189PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wood S, Russell JD (1987) On the nature of the calcium carbonate in the exoskeleton of woodlouse Oniscus asellus L. (Isopoda, Oniscidea). Crustaceana 53:49–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zimmer M (2002) Is decomposition of woodland leaf litter influenced by its species richness? Soil Biol Biochem 34:277–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zimmer M, Topp W (2000) Species-specific utilization of food sources by sympatric woodlice (Isopoda: Oniscidea). J Anim Ecol 69:1071–1082CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronique C. A. Vos
    • 1
  • Jasper van Ruijven
    • 1
  • Matty P. Berg
    • 2
  • Edwin T. H. M. Peeters
    • 3
  • Frank Berendse
    • 1
  1. 1.Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Centre for Ecosystem Studies, Environmental Sciences GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Ecological Science, Animal Ecology GroupVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Centre for Water and Climate, Environmental Sciences GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations