Plant and Soil

, Volume 374, Issue 1–2, pp 677–688

Effects of litter types, microsite and root diameters on litter decomposition in Pinus sylvestris plantations of northern China

  • Wei Wang
  • Xinyue Zhang
  • Na Tao
  • De Ao
  • Wenjing Zeng
  • Yuqi Qian
  • Hui Zeng
Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-013-1902-y

Cite this article as:
Wang, W., Zhang, X., Tao, N. et al. Plant Soil (2014) 374: 677. doi:10.1007/s11104-013-1902-y
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Abstract

Background and aims

Litter decomposition is a major process in the carbon (C) flow and nutrient cycling of terrestrial ecosystems, but the effects of litter type, microsite, and root diameter on decomposition are poorly understood.

Methods

Litterbags were used to examine the decomposition rate of leaf litter and roots at three soil depths (5, 10 and 20 cm) over a 470-day period in Pinus sylvestris plantations in northern China.

Results

Leaves and the finest roots decomposed more quickly at 5 cm depth and coarser roots (>1-mm) decomposed more quickly at 10 and 20 cm depth. Roots generally decomposed more quickly than leaf litter, except at 5 cm deep; leaves decomposed more quickly than the coarsest roots (>5-mm). Root decomposition was strongly influenced by root diameter. Leaves experienced net nitrogen (N) immobilization and coarse roots (>2-mm) experienced more N release than fine roots. Significant heterogeneity was seen in N release for fine-roots (<2-mm) with N immobilization occurring in smaller (0.5–2-mm) roots and N release in the finest roots (<0.5-mm).

Conclusions

Soil depth of litter placement significantly influenced the relative contribution of the decomposition of leaves and roots of different diameters to carbon and nutrient cycling.

Keyword

Decomposition Litter placement microsite Litter type Nitrogen dynamics Root diameters Plantations 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Wang
    • 1
  • Xinyue Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Na Tao
    • 1
    • 2
  • De Ao
    • 1
  • Wenjing Zeng
    • 1
  • Yuqi Qian
    • 1
  • Hui Zeng
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environment SciencePeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Shenzhen Graduate SchoolPeking UniversityShenzhenChina

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