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Forests 2016, 7(10), 249; doi:10.3390/f7100249

Water, Rather than Temperature, Dominantly Impacts How Soil Fauna Affect Dissolved Carbon and Nitrogen Release from Fresh Litter during Early Litter Decomposition

1,†
,
1,2,3,†
,
1,4
,
1
,
5
,
1
,
1,4
,
1,4
and
1,4,*
1
Long-Term Research Station of Alpine Forest Ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Ecological Forestry Engineering, Institute of Ecology and Forestry, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
2
Advanced Science Research Center, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, New York, NY 10031, USA
3
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Brooklyn College of The City University of New York, New York, NY 11210, USA
4
Collaborative Innovation Center of Ecological Security in the Upper Reaches of the Yangze River, Chengdu 611130, China
5
Laboratory of Forestry, Department of Forest and Water Management, Ghent University, Geraardsbergsesteenweg 267, BE-9090 Gontrode (Melle), Belgium
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Björn Berg
Received: 24 August 2016 / Revised: 18 October 2016 / Accepted: 18 October 2016 / Published: 24 October 2016
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Abstract

Longstanding observations suggest that dissolved materials are lost from fresh litter through leaching, but the role of soil fauna in controlling this process has been poorly documented. In this study, a litterbag experiment employing litterbags with different mesh sizes (3 mm to permit soil fauna access and 0.04 mm to exclude fauna access) was conducted in three habitats (arid valley, ecotone and subalpine forest) with changes in climate and vegetation types to evaluate the effects of soil fauna on the concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) during the first year of decomposition. The results showed that the individual density and community abundance of soil fauna greatly varied among these habitats, but Prostigmata, Isotomidae and Oribatida were the dominant soil invertebrates. At the end of the experiment, the mass remaining of foliar litter ranged from 58% for shrub litter to 77% for birch litter, and the DOC and TDN concentrations decreased to 54%–85% and increased to 34%–269%, respectively, when soil fauna were not present. The effects of soil fauna on the concentrations of both DOC and TDN in foliar litter were greater in the subalpine forest (wetter but colder) during the winter and in the arid valley (warmer but drier) during the growing season, and this effect was positively correlated with water content. Moreover, the effects of fauna on DOC and TDN concentrations were greater for high-quality litter and were related to the C/N ratio. These results suggest that water, rather than temperature, dominates how fauna affect the release of dissolved substances from fresh litter. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil fauna; dissolved organic carbon; dissolved nitrogen; subalpine forest soil fauna; dissolved organic carbon; dissolved nitrogen; subalpine forest
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MDPI and ACS Style

Liao, S.; Ni, X.; Yang, W.; Li, H.; Wang, B.; Fu, C.; Xu, Z.; Tan, B.; Wu, F. Water, Rather than Temperature, Dominantly Impacts How Soil Fauna Affect Dissolved Carbon and Nitrogen Release from Fresh Litter during Early Litter Decomposition. Forests 2016, 7, 249.

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