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Contrasting effects of nitrogen addition on litter decomposition in forests and grasslands in China

SU Yuan; MA Xiaofei; GONG Yanming; LI Kaihui; HAN Wenxuan; LIU Xuejun
Subjects: Geosciences >> Geography

Nitrogen (N) addition has profound impacts on litter-mediated nutrient cycling. Numerous studies have reported different effects of N addition on litter decomposition, exhibiting positive, negative, or neutral effects. Previous meta-analysis of litter decomposition under N addition was mainly based on a small number of samples to allow comparisons among ecosystem types. This study presents the results of a meta-analysis incorporating data from 53 published studies (including 617 observations) across forests, grasslands, wetlands, and croplands in China, to investigate how environmental and experimental factors impact the effects of N addition on litter decomposition. Averaged across all of the studies, N addition significantly slows litter decomposition by 7.02%. Considering ecosystem types, N addition significantly accelerates litter decomposition by 3.70% and 11.22% in grasslands and wetlands, respectively, clearly inhibits litter decomposition by 14.53% in forests, and has no significant effects on litter decomposition in croplands. Regarding the accelerated litter decomposition rate in grasslands due to N addition, litter decomposition rate increases slightly with increasing rates of N addition. However, N addition slows litter decomposition in forests, but litter decomposition is at a significantly increasing rate with increasing amounts of N addition. The responses of litter decomposition to N addition are also influenced by the forms of N addition, experiential duration of N addition, humidity index, litter quality, and soil pH. In summary, N addition alters litter decomposition rate, but the direction and magnitude of the response are affected by the forms of N addition, the rate of N addition, ambient N deposition, experimental duration, and climate factors. Our study highlights the contrasting effects of N addition on litter decomposition in forests and grasslands. This finding could be used in biogeochemical models to better evaluate ecosystem carbon cycling under increasing N deposition due to the differential responses of litter decomposition to N addition rates and ecosystem types.

submitted time 2021-08-06 From cooperative journals:《Journal of Arid Land》 Hits2966Downloads253 Comment 0

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