Effects of Litter Quality Diminish and Effects of Vegetation Type Develop During Litter Decomposition of Two Shrub Species in an Alpine Treeline Ecotone

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Haifeng Zheng
  • Yamei Chen
  • Yang Liu
  • Petr Heděnec
  • Yan Peng
  • Zhenfeng Xu
  • Bo Tan
  • Li Zhang
  • Li Guo
  • Lifeng Wang
  • Vesterdal, Lars

Because climate change is predicted to have a strong impact on high-altitude ecosystems, a better knowledge of litter decomposition in alpine ecosystems is critical to improve our predictions of the effect of climate change on ecosystem processes and services such as nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and below-ground biodiversity. To evaluate the effects of vegetation types [alpine shrubland (AS) and alpine meadow (AM)] and litter quality on litter decomposition and related biochemical processes, the decomposition of leaf litter of two dominant shrub species, Sorbus rufopilosa (SR, high quality) and Rhododendron lapponicum (RL, low quality), was studied using the litterbag method in an alpine treeline ecotone on the eastern Tibetan Plateau. After 1 year of decomposition, cellulolytic enzyme activities and gram-negative bacterial biomass were higher in shrubland than in meadow. However, higher fungal biomass, fungal/bacteria ratio and ligninolytic activity were observed in meadow than in shrubland after 2 years of decomposition. During the first year of decomposition, litter decomposition was faster in shrubland than in meadow probably due to the home-field advantage (HFA) effect and the bacteria-dominated decomposition, whereas in later decomposition stages, litter decomposition was faster in meadow than in shrubland, as the HFA effect diminished and fungal-dominated decomposition of recalcitrant components took over. These results indicated that litter quality effects were generally strongest in the first year and diminished in later stages when the effect of vegetation type in incubation sites developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-210
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Alpine treeline ecotone, Lignocellulolytic enzyme, Litter decomposition, Litter quality, Microbial community, Soil carbon

ID: 242113960