Ecosystems

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 652–663

Large Rainfall Pulses Control Litter Decomposition in a Tropical Dry Forest: Evidence from an 8-Year Study

  • Carlos A. Anaya
  • Víctor J. Jaramillo
  • Angelina Martínez-Yrízar
  • Felipe García-Oliva
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10021-012-9537-z

Cite this article as:
Anaya, C.A., Jaramillo, V.J., Martínez-Yrízar, A. et al. Ecosystems (2012) 15: 652. doi:10.1007/s10021-012-9537-z

Abstract

We investigated the influence of rainfall attributes on litter decomposition over an 8-year period in a well-preserved tropical dry forest ecosystem in western Mexico. We examined the relationship between the size and number of rainfall events and rainy-season litter decomposition rates and determined if this relationship varied along a landscape gradient. A mass balance approach was used to estimate decomposition rate in four permanent 2,400 m2 plots located in two small watersheds. Watershed I included three plots in different landscape positions (upper, middle, and lower) in the elevation gradient, whereas Watershed IV included one plot in the middle position. Surface litter C mass was lower in the rainy than in the dry season in all plots in response to seasonal fluctuations in rainfall. The frequency of small (≤5 mm) and medium (5.1–9.9 mm) size rainfall events largely did not correlate with litter decomposition, but the frequency of large events (≥10 mm) had a positive correlation with decomposition rates (P < 0.05), except in plot IV (P < 0.1). Decomposition rates were similar among plots at the different landscape positions within Watershed I (P > 0.05). The relevance of large rainfall events (≥10 mm) in rainy-season litter decomposition suggests that changes in the precipitation regime which alter the frequency of these rainfall pulses or increase their variability would affect the vulnerability of the litter C and nutrient pools to extreme events.

Keywords

biogeochemistry carbon cycle decomposition long-term research rainfall pulses tropical dry forest 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos A. Anaya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Víctor J. Jaramillo
    • 1
  • Angelina Martínez-Yrízar
    • 3
  • Felipe García-Oliva
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones en EcosistemasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía AmbientalUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  3. 3.Instituto de EcologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoHermosilloMexico

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