Plant litter decomposition in a semi-arid ecosystem controlled by photodegradation View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2006-08

AUTHORS

Amy T. Austin, Lucía Vivanco

ABSTRACT

The carbon balance in terrestrial ecosystems is determined by the difference between inputs from primary production and the return of carbon to the atmosphere through decomposition of organic matter. Our understanding of the factors that control carbon turnover in water-limited ecosystems is limited, however, as studies of litter decomposition have shown contradictory results and only a modest correlation with precipitation. Here we evaluate the influence of solar radiation, soil biotic activity and soil resource availability on litter decomposition in the semi-arid Patagonian steppe using the results of manipulative experiments carried out under ambient conditions of rainfall and temperature. We show that intercepted solar radiation was the only factor that had a significant effect on the decomposition of organic matter, with attenuation of ultraviolet-B and total radiation causing a 33 and 60 per cent reduction in decomposition, respectively. We conclude that photodegradation is a dominant control on above-ground litter decomposition in this semi-arid ecosystem. Losses through photochemical mineralization may represent a short-circuit in the carbon cycle, with a substantial fraction of carbon fixed in plant biomass being lost directly to the atmosphere without cycling through soil organic matter pools. Furthermore, future changes in radiation interception due to decreased cloudiness, increased stratospheric ozone depletion, or reduced vegetative cover may have a more significant effect on the carbon balance in these water-limited ecosystems than changes in temperature or precipitation. More... »

PAGES

555

References to SciGraph publications

  • 1994-06. Effects of increasing ultraviolet B radiation on decomposition and soil organic matter dynamics: a synthesis and modelling study in BIOLOGY AND FERTILITY OF SOILS
  • 2006-02. Differential Controls of Water Input on Litter Decomposition and Nitrogen Dynamics in the Patagonian Steppe in ECOSYSTEMS
  • 1986-03. Rainfall and decomposition in the chihuahuan desert in OECOLOGIA
  • 2001-06. The direct effects of UV-B radiation on Betula pubescens litter decomposing at four European field sites in PLANT ECOLOGY
  • 2005-06. Remobilization of southern African desert dune systems by twenty-first century global warming in NATURE
  • 2000-11. Elevated CO2 increases productivity and invasive species success in an arid ecosystem in NATURE
  • 2002-08. Ecosystem carbon loss with woody plant invasion of grasslands in NATURE
  • 1991-09. Photochemical degradation of dissolved organic carbon and its impact on the oceanic carbon cycle in NATURE
  • 2001-05. Limited carbon storage in soil and litter of experimental forest plots under increased atmospheric CO2 in NATURE
  • 1989-12. Resource partitioning between shrubs and grasses in the Patagonian steppe in OECOLOGIA
  • 2002-03. Arctic microorganisms respond more to elevated UV-B radiation than CO2 in NATURE
  • 1990-03. Decomposition along a rainfall gradient in the Judean desert, Israel in OECOLOGIA
  • 2001. The direct effects of UV-B radiation on Betula pubescens litter decomposing at four European field sites in RESPONSES OF PLANTS TO UV-B RADIATION
  • 1989-10. Photochemical source of biological substrates in sea water: implications for carbon cycling in NATURE
  • Identifiers

    URI

    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/nature05038

    DOI

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature05038

    DIMENSIONS

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    PUBMED

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16885982


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