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Do plant species encourage soil biota that specialise in the rapid decomposition of their litter?

Ayres, Edward and Dromph, Karsten M. and Bardgett, Richard D. (2006) Do plant species encourage soil biota that specialise in the rapid decomposition of their litter? Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38 (1). pp. 183-186. ISSN 0038-0717

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Abstract

Plants are often nutrient limited and soil organisms are important in mediating nutrient availability to plants. Thus, there may be a selective advantage to plants that alter the soil community in ways that enhance the decomposition of their litter and, hence, their ability to access nutrients. We incubated litter from three tree species (Fagus sylvatica, Acer pseudoplatanus and Picea sitchensis) in the presence of biota extracted from soil beneath a stand of each species to test the hypothesis that litter decomposes fastest in the presence of biota derived from soil where that species is locally abundant. We found that respiration rate, a measure of decomposer activity and carbon mineralisation, was affected by litter type and source of soil biota, whereas, mass loss was only affected by litter type. However, litter from each tree species did not decompose faster in the presence of indigenous soil biota. These findings, therefore, provide no support for the notion that woodland plants encourage the development of soil communities that rapidly decompose their litter.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Leaf litter ; Decomposition ; Mass loss ; Soil biota ; Flora ; Fauna ; Community structure ; Respiration ; Nutrient cycling ; Local adaptation
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 10173
Deposited By: Prof Richard Bardgett
Deposited On: 11 Jul 2008 08:54
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:47
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/10173

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