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Xu Z.,Sichuan Agricultural University | Xu Z.,Long term Research Station of Alpine Forest Ecosystems and Monitoring Station for Eco environments in the Rainy Zone of SW China | Zhu J.,Peking University | Wu F.,Sichuan Agricultural University | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Forestry Research

Temperature and freeze-thaw events are two key factors controlling litter decomposition in cold biomes. Predicted global warming and changes in freeze-thaw cycles therefore may directly or indirectly impact litter decomposition in those ecosystems. Here, we conducted a 2-year-long litter decomposition experiment along an elevational gradient from 3000 to 3600 m to determine the potential effects of litter quality, climate warming and freeze-thaw on the mass losses of three litter types [dragon spruce (Picea asperata Mast.), red birch (Betula albosinensis Burk.), and minjiang fir (Abies faxoniana Rehd. et Wild)]. Marked differences in mass loss were observed among the litter types and sampling dates. Decay constant (k) values of red birch were significantly higher than those of the needle litters. However, mass losses between elevations did not differ significantly for any litter type. During the winter, lost mass contributed 18.3–28.8 % of the net loss rates of the first year. Statistical analysis showed that the relationships between mass loss and litter chemistry or their ratios varied with decomposition periods. Our results indicated that short-term field incubations could overestimate the k value of litter decomposition. Considerable mass was lost from subalpine forest litters during the wintertime. Potential future warming may not affect the litter decomposition in the subalpine forest ecosystems of eastern Tibetan Plateau. © 2015 Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg Source

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