No home-field advantage in litter decomposition from the desert to temperate forest

van den Brink, Liesbeth; Canessa, Rafaella; Neidhardt, Harald; Knuever, Timo; Rios, Rodrigo S.; Saldana, Alfredo; Cavieres, Lohengrin A.; Oelmann, Yvonne; Bader, Maaike Y.; Tielboerger, Katja


--- - 1. Litter decomposition rates are determined by the interplay of climate, decomposer organisms and litter quality. It has been suggested that the decomposer community may be locally adapted to litter quality, providing a home-field advantage (HFA) resulting in accelerated decomposition of local compared to non-local litter, after accounting for decomposition differences due to litter quality and the functional capacity of microorganisms. Although widely tested in forests, this hypothesis remains controversial and lacks support of its generality across climates. - 2. We therefore tested the HFA hypothesis for litter decomposition in four contrasting ecosystems along an extensive climatic gradient in Chile, using a translocation experiment involving litter from 20 species. In addition to comparing mass loss, we adopted a novel way to disentangle decomposer effects from climate effects, based on loss rates of elements that are actively released from the litter by decomposers during its breakdown versus elements that are simply leached by precipitation. We used the ratios of nitrogen and potassium losses (N/K loss) and phosphorus and potassium losses (P/K loss) to unravel the relative role of microbial breakdown (N and P loss) versus physical leaching (K loss) along the climate gradient. Thus, at each site, we tested whether litter mass loss, N/K loss and P/K loss presented an additional loss due to a HFA for local compared to non-local litter. - 3. Across a wide range of environments and litter types, our findings unequivocally contradicted the HFA hypothesis. We observed no significantly positive HFA along the gradient; however, litter quality and the general ability of the decomposer community influenced litter decomposition much more strongly than origin or location of the litter. - 4. Our study questions the applicability of the HFA for litter decomposition and calls for more studies that include a large range of climatic conditions to understand the context-dependency of HFA.

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:000935628700001 Not found in local WOS DB
Título de la Revista: FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY
Volumen: 37
Número: 5
Editorial: Wiley
Fecha de publicación: 2023
Página de inicio: 1315
Página final: 1327


Notas: ISI