Trait functional diversity explains mixture effects on litter decomposition at the arid end of a climate gradient

Canessa, Rafaella; van den Brink, Liesbeth; Berdugo, Monica B.; Haettenschwiler, Stephan; Rios, Rodrigo S.; Saldana, Alfredo; Tielboerger, Katja; Bader, Maaike Y.


Litter decomposition is controlled by climate, litter quality and decomposer communities. Because the decomposition of specific litter types is also influenced by the properties of adjacent types, mixing litter types may result in non-additive effects on overall decomposition rates. The strength of these effects seems to depend on the litter functional diversity. However, it is unclear which functional traits or combination of traits explain litter mixture effects and whether these depend on the range of trait values and the ecosystems involved. These uncertainties hamper our ability to predict decomposition in plant communities. We aimed at understanding whether and how functional diversity (measured as functional dispersion, FDis) influences litter decomposition, and how this influence varies among different climates and across decomposition stages. We calculated FDis based on litter traits related to nutrient concentrations or to litter recalcitrance, and tested whether these diversity measures and climatic parameters (soil moisture and temperature) explained litter mixture effects on decomposition. Additive mixture effects (i.e. decomposition of mixtures equalling the mean decomposition of the single litter types) were common in most of the evaluated climates. Non-additive, negative effects were mainly restricted to the driest and warmest sites, and decreased with time. Non-additive effects increased in magnitude with the mixtures' FDis, with positive effects being related to FDis in nutrient traits and negative effects being related to FDis in recalcitrance traits. Synthesis. Litter mixing did not have strong effects on decomposition rates across the studied climatic gradient overall, and the direction and intensity of the mixture effects were context dependent. The effects were stronger and more negative in the dryer ecosystems. Where effects were found, functional diversity calculated from selected groups of traits (related to nutrients or litter recalcitrance) predicted mixture effects, especially where trait ranges were broad, though much of the variation remains unexplained. We propose that functional diversity metrics based on litter traits that are mechanistically relevant, applied to diverse site-specific litter mixtures in different climates, can help to better understand under which conditions and in which direction litter diversity affects decomposition.

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Título según WOS: Trait functional diversity explains mixture effects on litter decomposition at the arid end of a climate gradient
Título de la Revista: JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY
Volumen: 110
Número: 9
Editorial: Wiley
Fecha de publicación: 2022
Página de inicio: 2219
Página final: 2231


Notas: ISI