Main content area

Litter species diversity is more important than genotypic diversity of dominant grass species Stipa grandis in influencing litter decomposition in a bare field

Yang, Xue, Qu, Yao-bing, Yang, Nan, Zhao, Hang, Wang, Jin-long, Zhao, Nian-xi, Gao, Yu-bao
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.666 pp. 490-498
Stipa grandis, biogeochemical cycles, carbon, dominant species, ecosystems, genetic variation, grasses, lignin, nitrogen, phosphorus, plant litter, species diversity, steppes, synergism, China
Studies have indicated that plant litter diversity can affect litter decomposition at both species diversity and genotypic diversity level within a species. However, the essence and relative importance of these two diversity levels on litter decomposition remain unknown. Here, two independent one-factor experiments, litter species diversity and litter genotypic diversity of the dominant species—Stipa grandis, were carried out to explore the effects of initial litter quality, litter composition and diversity on decomposition of mass, nitrogen (N), carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) simultaneously. The results showed that: (1) there were significant relationships between the initial litter N, C/N, lignin/N and the decomposition rate of N, between the initial litter P, N/P and the decomposition rate of P, and the litter composition significantly influenced litter mass, N, C and P remaining in both litter species and genotypic diversity experiments; and (2) litter species diversity significantly affected litter mass, N, C and P remaining, and non-additive relative mixture effects were mainly contributed by synergistic effects especially in 6-species mixtures; however, similar patterns were not found in litter genotypic diversity experiment. The present results emphasized that initial litter quality played the most important role in influencing litter decomposition of mass N, C and P, and suggested that litter species mixtures rather than litter genotypic mixtures of a dominant species could favor nutrient cycling in ecosystem of the semi-arid Inner Mongolia Steppe of China.