Home Field Advantage of Litter Decomposition in Pure and Mixed Plantations Under Boreal Climate

Mathilde Chomel*, Marie Guittonny-Larcheveque, Annie DesRochers, Virginie Baldy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tree species influence the litter decomposition process by influencing litter quality and soil microclimate. Furthermore, over the long term, trees could promote soil communities that are particularly capable of degrading the litter they encounter most often. Thus, plant litter could decompose faster when placed in the habitat from which it was derived than in a foreign habitat, which has been termed home field advantage (HFA) of litter decomposition. In mixed-plant species environments however, it is not known whether a specific decomposer community under one tree species is affected by the presence of another tree species in the vicinity. To address this question, we tested if spruce and poplar litters showed HFA in mono-specific and in mixed species plantations under each tree species by reciprocally transplanting litter in the two plantation types. Decomposition rates, as well as the composition and ability of decomposer communities to degrade the different types of litter, were monitored during two years. Only spruce litter exhibited a faster decomposition rate at home. This HFA could be explained by higher abundance of decomposers. Furthermore, cellulose and poplar litter decomposed less or similarly in spruce plantations, suggesting that soil communities of that environment were capable of specifically degrading spruce litter. In mixed plantations, HFA was in the same direction as in mono-specific plantations, but was not as strong, indicating that HFA is sensitive to the surrounding plant community. Furthermore, this "mixed environment" had synergistic effects on decomposition rates under poplar trees. These 'tree environment-specific' results highlighted the possible importance of spatial distribution of each litter on decomposition rates in mixed stands. Thus, the influence of litter dispersal should be taken into account in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1014-1028
Number of pages15
JournalEcosystems
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

Keywords

  • reciprocal transplant
  • white spruce
  • hybrid poplar
  • mites
  • springtails
  • microorganisms
  • carbon-source utilization
  • leaf-litter
  • microbial communities
  • soil biota
  • plant
  • forest
  • dynamics
  • spruce
  • fungi
  • biodiversity

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