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Plant and Soil

, Volume 402, Issue 1–2, pp 91–101 | Cite as

Effects of drought-induced forest die-off on litter decomposition

  • Josep Barba
  • Francisco Lloret
  • Jorge Curiel Yuste
Regular Article

Abstract

Aims

Drought-induced forest die-off and subsequent species replacement may modify environmental conditions and eventually affect litter decomposition. We aimed to disentangle the effects of tree species and die-off state on litter decomposition in a mixed forest where Pinus sylvestris populations experiencing severe drought-induced die-off are being replaced by Quercus ilex.

Methods

Litter bags with leaves and fine roots from both species were placed under canopies representing three habitats of the die-off and replacement process (healthy and dead P. sylvestris and healthy Q. ilex). Mass was assessed over 3 years.

Results

Species-specific chemistry of litter (C:N ratio) had a direct effect on mass loss, but also indirect effects, attributed to the decomposer microbial community associated with a given habitat-species. In their respective original habitats, oak leaves decomposed 44 % faster than pine needles, whereas oak roots decomposed 46 % slower than pine roots.

Conclusions

Forest die-off and species replacement affected litter decomposition. This effect can have great implications in forest functioning, particularly if drought-induced die-off worsens in the next decades, according with the trend observed in the studied system.

Keywords

Litter decomposition Forest die-off Home field advantage Carbon cycle Mediterranean forest 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank I. Azcoitia, G. Barba, M. Gol and C. Recasens for help in fieldwork and sample processing, and J. Martínez-Vilalta for his valuable comments. We thank the anonymous referees for all their constructive comments and advice. This study was supported by the Spanish Government projects CGL2009-08101, CGL2010-16373, CGL2012-32965 and CGL2013-42271-P, by the Government of Catalonia grants (2009-SGR-00247 and 2014-SGR-453) and by the TRY initiative on plant traits (http://www.try-db.org). JB was supported by an FPI scholarship (BES-2010-036558) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. JCY acknowledges the support of the “Ramon y Cajal” programme.

Supplementary material

11104_2015_2762_MOESM1_ESM.docx (125 kb)
Sup. Figure 1 (DOCX 124 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josep Barba
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francisco Lloret
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jorge Curiel Yuste
    • 3
  1. 1.CREAFBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.UnivAutònoma Barcelona (UAB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN), CSICMadridSpain

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