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Direct and understorey-mediated indirect effects of human-induced environmental changes on litter decomposition in temperate forest

Bin Wang (UGent) , Haben Blondeel (UGent) , Lander Baeten (UGent) , Ika Djukic, Emiel De Lombaerde (UGent) and Kris Verheyen (UGent)
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Abstract
Human-induced environmental changes in temperature, light availability due to forest canopy management, nitrogen deposition, and land-use legacies can alter ecosystem processes such as litter decomposition. These influences can be both direct and indirect via altering the performance of understorey vegetation. To identify the direct and indirect effects of environmental changes on litter decomposition, we performed an experiment with standardised green and rooibos teas. The experiment was conducted in a temperate mixed deciduous forest, and treatments (temperature, light, and nitrogen) were applied to mesocosms filled with ancient and post-agricultural forest soil. Both green tea and rooibos teas were more rapidly decomposed in oligotrophic soil than in eutrophic soil. The direct effects of the treatments on litter decomposition varied among the two litter types, incubation times, and soil fertility groups. Warming and agricultural legacy had a negative direct effect on the decomposition of the green tea in the high soil fertility treatment during the early decomposition stage. In contrast, agricultural legacy had a positive direct effect on the decomposition of rooibos tea. Soil enriched with nitrogen had a negative direct effect on the decomposition of green tea in mesotrophic soil in the early decomposition stage and on rooibos tea in later stage. The indirect effects of the treatments were consistently negative, as treatments (especially the temperature and light treatments in the early decomposition stage) had a positive effect on plant cover, which negatively affected litter decomposition. Our results indicate that warming, increased nitrogen deposition, and land use legacy can directly stimulate the decomposition of labile litter on more fertile soils. Furthermore, warming and increased light had stronger positive direct effects on understorey herbaceous cover, which leads to slower decomposition rates, especially in more fertile soils. Therefore, the indirect effects of environmental changes related to the understorey layer on litter decomposition can be more important than their direct effects, thus should not be overlooked.
Keywords
Environmental changes, Understorey vegetation, Herb layer, Teabag, Structural equation modelling, Litter decomposition, SOIL ORGANIC-CARBON, CLIMATE-CHANGE, MICROBIAL COMMUNITY, NITROGEN ADDITIONS, MASS-LOSS, VEGETATION, BIOMASS, SENSITIVITY, QUALITY, BOREAL

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Wang, Bin, et al. “Direct and Understorey-Mediated Indirect Effects of Human-Induced Environmental Changes on Litter Decomposition in Temperate Forest.” SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, vol. 138, 2019.
APA
Wang, B., Blondeel, H., Baeten, L., Djukic, I., De Lombaerde, E., & Verheyen, K. (2019). Direct and understorey-mediated indirect effects of human-induced environmental changes on litter decomposition in temperate forest. SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, 138.
Chicago author-date
Wang, Bin, Haben Blondeel, Lander Baeten, Ika Djukic, Emiel De Lombaerde, and Kris Verheyen. 2019. “Direct and Understorey-Mediated Indirect Effects of Human-Induced Environmental Changes on Litter Decomposition in Temperate Forest.” SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY 138.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Wang, Bin, Haben Blondeel, Lander Baeten, Ika Djukic, Emiel De Lombaerde, and Kris Verheyen. 2019. “Direct and Understorey-Mediated Indirect Effects of Human-Induced Environmental Changes on Litter Decomposition in Temperate Forest.” SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY 138.
Vancouver
1.
Wang B, Blondeel H, Baeten L, Djukic I, De Lombaerde E, Verheyen K. Direct and understorey-mediated indirect effects of human-induced environmental changes on litter decomposition in temperate forest. SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY. 2019;138.
IEEE
[1]
B. Wang, H. Blondeel, L. Baeten, I. Djukic, E. De Lombaerde, and K. Verheyen, “Direct and understorey-mediated indirect effects of human-induced environmental changes on litter decomposition in temperate forest,” SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, vol. 138, 2019.
@article{8631503,
  abstract     = {Human-induced environmental changes in temperature, light availability due to forest canopy management, nitrogen deposition, and land-use legacies can alter ecosystem processes such as litter decomposition. These influences can be both direct and indirect via altering the performance of understorey vegetation. To identify the direct and indirect effects of environmental changes on litter decomposition, we performed an experiment with standardised green and rooibos teas. The experiment was conducted in a temperate mixed deciduous forest, and treatments (temperature, light, and nitrogen) were applied to mesocosms filled with ancient and post-agricultural forest soil. Both green tea and rooibos teas were more rapidly decomposed in oligotrophic soil than in eutrophic soil. The direct effects of the treatments on litter decomposition varied among the two litter types, incubation times, and soil fertility groups. Warming and agricultural legacy had a negative direct effect on the decomposition of the green tea in the high soil fertility treatment during the early decomposition stage. In contrast, agricultural legacy had a positive direct effect on the decomposition of rooibos tea. Soil enriched with nitrogen had a negative direct effect on the decomposition of green tea in mesotrophic soil in the early decomposition stage and on rooibos tea in later stage. The indirect effects of the treatments were consistently negative, as treatments (especially the temperature and light treatments in the early decomposition stage) had a positive effect on plant cover, which negatively affected litter decomposition. Our results indicate that warming, increased nitrogen deposition, and land use legacy can directly stimulate the decomposition of labile litter on more fertile soils. Furthermore, warming and increased light had stronger positive direct effects on understorey herbaceous cover, which leads to slower decomposition rates, especially in more fertile soils. Therefore, the indirect effects of environmental changes related to the understorey layer on litter decomposition can be more important than their direct effects, thus should not be overlooked.},
  articleno    = {107579},
  author       = {Wang, Bin and Blondeel, Haben and Baeten, Lander and Djukic, Ika and De Lombaerde, Emiel and Verheyen, Kris},
  issn         = {0038-0717},
  journal      = {SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY},
  keywords     = {Environmental changes,Understorey vegetation,Herb layer,Teabag,Structural equation modelling,Litter decomposition,SOIL ORGANIC-CARBON,CLIMATE-CHANGE,MICROBIAL COMMUNITY,NITROGEN ADDITIONS,MASS-LOSS,VEGETATION,BIOMASS,SENSITIVITY,QUALITY,BOREAL},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {11},
  title        = {Direct and understorey-mediated indirect effects of human-induced environmental changes on litter decomposition in temperate forest},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107579},
  volume       = {138},
  year         = {2019},
}

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