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Diversity-decomposition relationships in forests worldwide

  1. Liang Kou  Is a corresponding author
  2. Lei Jiang
  3. Stephan Hättenschwiler
  4. Miaomiao Zhang
  5. Shuli Niu
  6. Xiaoli Fu
  7. Xiaoqin Dai
  8. Han Yan
  9. Shenggong Li  Is a corresponding author
  10. Huimin Wang  Is a corresponding author
  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  2. CNRS, France
  3. Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, China
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e55813 doi: 10.7554/eLife.55813

Abstract

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.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Liang Kou

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    For correspondence
    koul@igsnrr.ac.cn
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2187-0721
  2. Lei Jiang

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Stephan Hättenschwiler

    CNRS, Montpellier, France
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Miaomiao Zhang

    State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Key Laboratory of Tree Breeding and Cultivation of State Forestry Administration, Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Shuli Niu

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Xiaoli Fu

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Xiaoqin Dai

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijijng, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Han Yan

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Shenggong Li

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    For correspondence
    lisg@igsnrr.ac.cn
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  10. Huimin Wang

    Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    For correspondence
    wanghm@igsnrr.ac.cn
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China (41830646; 31570443)

  • Shenggong Li

National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0600202)

  • Shenggong Li

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. David Donoso, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Ecuador

Publication history

  1. Received: February 6, 2020
  2. Accepted: June 20, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: June 26, 2020 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2020, Kou et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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