Plant species diversity affects carbon and nutrient cycling during litter decomposition, yet the generality of the direction of this effect and its magnitude remain uncertain. With a meta-analysis including 65 field studies across the Earth's major forest ecosystems, we show here that decomposition was faster when litter was composed of more than one species. These positive biodiversity effects were mostly driven by temperate forests, but were more variable in other forests. Litter mixture effects emerged most strongly in early decomposition stages and were related to divergence in litter quality. Litter diversity also accelerated nitrogen, but not phosphorus release, potentially indicating a decoupling of nitrogen and phosphorus cycling and perhaps a shift in ecosystem nutrient limitation with changing biodiversity. Our findings demonstrate the importance of litter diversity effects for carbon and nutrient dynamics during decomposition, and show how these effects vary with litter traits, decomposer complexity and forest characteristics.
- Shenggong Li
- Shenggong Li
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- David Donoso, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Ecuador
- Received: February 6, 2020
- Accepted: June 20, 2020
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 26, 2020 (version 1)
© 2020, Kou et al.
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