, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 171–183 | Cite as

Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Litter Decomposition in California Annual Grasslands: Which Mechanisms Matter?

  • Jeffrey S. Dukes
  • Bruce A. Hungate


To date, most research that has examined the effect of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) on litter decomposition has focused on changes in the leaf litter quality of individual species. Results from California grasslands indicate that other CO2 responses may have greater consequences for decomposition rates. For instance, CO2-driven changes in either species dominance or patterns of biomass allocation would alter both the quality and the position of grassland litter. We review the results from studies in California grasslands to identify the mechanisms that affect grassland litter decomposition. We use a simple calculation that integrates the results of two studies to identify three mechanisms that have the potential to substantially alter decomposition rates as the atmospheric [CO2] rises.

Key words: allocation; elevated CO 2; litter decomposition; litter position; litter quality; plant litter; serpentine grassland; soil microbiota; soil moisture; species composition. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey S. Dukes
    • 1
  • Bruce A. Hungate
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5020, USAUS
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences and Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5640, USAUS

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