In the last decade a great research effort addressed the effects of litter diversity on ecosystem functions, reporting both synergistic and antagonistic effects for decomposition dynamics. Four coexisting Mediterranean species, representing a range of litter quality, were used to arrange litter mixtures at three diversity levels for a litterbag decomposition experiment. Species identity appeared as the major determinant for litter mass loss (Coronilla emerus∼Hedera helix>Festuca drymeia>Quercus ilex) and nutrient release, with rates for all leaf litter types following the sequence K>N>Mg≥Ca>>Fe. Additive diversity effects were prevalent pooling together all data but also for nutrients separately. Antagonistic interactions were more common than synergistic in the cases of mass loss, N and Ca contents, but not for K, Mg and Fe dynamics. The number of species in the litterbag significantly affected the outcome of non-additive interactions, which were mostly antagonistic for two-species mixtures, and synergistic for the combined 4 species. Litter quality appears to be the most important factor affecting mass loss and nutrient dynamics, while litter diversity, influencing the rates of these processes, plays an important role in reducing their variability, thus suggesting a greater stability of ecosystems properties in presence of mixed litter.

Decomposition and nutrient dynamics in mixed litter of Mediterranean species

INCERTI, Guido;
2010

Abstract

In the last decade a great research effort addressed the effects of litter diversity on ecosystem functions, reporting both synergistic and antagonistic effects for decomposition dynamics. Four coexisting Mediterranean species, representing a range of litter quality, were used to arrange litter mixtures at three diversity levels for a litterbag decomposition experiment. Species identity appeared as the major determinant for litter mass loss (Coronilla emerus∼Hedera helix>Festuca drymeia>Quercus ilex) and nutrient release, with rates for all leaf litter types following the sequence K>N>Mg≥Ca>>Fe. Additive diversity effects were prevalent pooling together all data but also for nutrients separately. Antagonistic interactions were more common than synergistic in the cases of mass loss, N and Ca contents, but not for K, Mg and Fe dynamics. The number of species in the litterbag significantly affected the outcome of non-additive interactions, which were mostly antagonistic for two-species mixtures, and synergistic for the combined 4 species. Litter quality appears to be the most important factor affecting mass loss and nutrient dynamics, while litter diversity, influencing the rates of these processes, plays an important role in reducing their variability, thus suggesting a greater stability of ecosystems properties in presence of mixed litter.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11390/1104369
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