, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 255–266 | Cite as

Micro-decomposer communities and decomposition processes in tropical lowlands as affected by land use and litter type

  • Valentyna Krashevska
  • Elena Malysheva
  • Bernhard Klarner
  • Yuri Mazei
  • Mark Maraun
  • Rahayu Widyastuti
  • Stefan Scheu
Ecosystem ecology – original research


We investigated how the land-use change from rainforest into jungle rubber, intensive rubber and oil palm plantations affects decomposers and litter decomposition in Sumatra, Indonesia. Litterbags containing three litter types were placed into four land-use systems and harvested after 6 and 12 months. Litter mass loss and litter element concentrations were measured, and different microbial groups including bacteria, fungi and testate amoebae were studied. After 12 months 81, 65, 63 and 53% of litter exposed in rainforest, jungle rubber in oil palm and rubber plantations was decomposed. In addition to land use, litter decomposition varied strongly with litter type and short-term effects differed markedly from long-term effects. After 6 months, oil palm and rubber litter decomposed faster than rainforest litter, but after 12 months, decomposition of rainforest litter exceeded that of oil palm and rubber litter, reflecting adaptation of bacteria and fungi to decompose structural compounds in rainforest litter but not (or less) in rubber and oil palm litter. Bacterial and fungal community composition and testate amoeba species number and density varied strongly with litter type, but little with land use. However, community composition of testate amoebae was mainly affected by land use. Generally, changes in bacteria, fungi and testate amoebae were linked to changes in litter element concentrations, suggesting that element ratios of litter material as basal resource for the decomposer food web shape the structure of decomposer communities and decomposition processes via bottom-up forces. Overall, changing rainforest to monoculture plantations shifts the decomposer community structure and negatively affects litter decomposition.


Transformation system Microorganisms Protists Testate amoebae Plantation 



Financial support was provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the framework of the collaborative German—Indonesian research project CRC990 (EFForTS). We thank the State Ministry of Research and Technology of Indonesia (RISTEK), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Ministry of Forestry (PHKA) and Restoration Ecosystem Indonesia Harapan for the permits. Testate amoebae analysis was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant 14-14-00891). We thank many Indonesian organizations for granting us access to the sampling plots and use of their properties. We thank the many colleagues and helpers for their support in the field and assistance in the laboratory.

Author contribution statement

VK, SS and MM designed the study. VK and BK prepared and installed litterbags. VK, EM, YM and RW performed the research in the laboratory. VK analysed the data. VK and SS wrote the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

442_2018_4103_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (209 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 209 kb)
442_2018_4103_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (224 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 223 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.J.F. Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and AnthropologyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Penza State UniversityPenzaRussia
  3. 3.Papanin Institute for Biology of Inland WatersRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  4. 4.Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  5. 5.Department of Soil Sciences and Land ResourcesInstitut Pertanian Bogor, IPBBogorIndonesia
  6. 6.Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land UseUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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