Differential responses of litter decomposition to climate between wetland and upland ecosystems in China

  • Yajun Xie
  • Yonghong XieEmail author
  • Huayun XiaoEmail author
Regular Article


Background and aims

In upland ecosystems, climate and initial litter quality are the two major factors influencing decomposition rates regionally and globally. Litters are exposed to a different decomposition environment in wetlands than in upland ecosystems, but the driving factors of litter decomposition in wetlands at a large scale are still unclear.


We established a comprehensive database of litter decomposition in China, including 249 datasets and 27 pairs of sites, to examine the controlling factors of decomposition in both wetland and upland ecosystems at the regional scale.


Both ecosystems showed similar climatic conditions, but the average litter decomposition potential was higher in wetlands than in upland ecosystems, as indicated by a higher initial K content and lower initial carbon content. The average decomposition rate in wetlands was almost 3 times higher than that in upland ecosystems. In both ecosystems, the decomposition rate increased with the mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, and initial N content. However, linear regressions of these variables with the decomposition rate indicated steeper slopes in wetlands than in upland ecosystems.


The litter decomposition rate responded to climate and initial N content in both ecosystem types, but these responses were more rapid in wetlands than upland ecosystems. Wetland ecosystems should be given more attention when studying the responses of litter dynamics to future climate changes.


Litter decomposition rate Wetlands Mean annual temperature Mean annual precipitation Initial litter quality 



This study was financially supported by the National Key Technology R & D Program (2014BAC09B03), Doctoral Scientific Research Foundation of East China University of Technology (DHBK2016108), and Scientific Research Foundation of East China University of Technology for Science and Technology Innovation Team (DHKT2015101).

Supplementary material

11104_2019_4022_MOESM1_ESM.xls (118 kb)
ESM 1 (XLS 118 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangxi Province Key Laboratory of the causes and control of Atmospheric pollution, School of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, State Key Laboratory of Nuclear Resources and EnvironmentEast China University of TechnologyJiangxi ProvincePeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Dongting Lake Station for Wetland Ecosystem Research, Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Regions, Institute of Subtropical AgricultureThe Chinese Academy of SciencesHunan ProvincePeople’s Republic of China

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