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What controls forest litter decomposition? A coordinated, distributed teabag experiment across 10 mountains
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  • Shiyu Ma,
  • Shengbin Chen,
  • Yi Ding,
  • Zhongsheng He,
  • Gang Hu,
  • Jie Liu,
  • Ya-huang Luo,
  • Kun Song,
  • Yongchuan Yang,
  • Xiaolei Huang,
  • Meixiang Gao,
  • Lan Liu,
  • Bo Chen,
  • Xianjin He,
  • Xiaorong Lu,
  • Bingwei lv,
  • Liang-Liang Ma,
  • Yani Meng,
  • Zhongping Tian,
  • Hong-Wei Zhang,
  • Xijin Zhang,
  • Yansong Zhang,
  • Zhaochen Zhang,
  • Shaopeng Li,
  • Jian Zhang
Shiyu Ma
East China Normal University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Shengbin Chen
Chengdu University of Technology
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Yi Ding
Chinese Academy of Forestry
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Zhongsheng He
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
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Gang Hu
Nanning Normal University
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Jie Liu
Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Ya-huang Luo
Kunming Institute of Botany Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Kun Song
East China Normal University
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Yongchuan Yang
Chongqing University
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Xiaolei Huang
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
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Meixiang Gao
Ningbo University
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Lan Liu
Hainan University
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Bo Chen
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
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Xianjin He
Chongqing University
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Xiaorong Lu
East China Normal University
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Bingwei lv
East China Normal University
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Liang-Liang Ma
Kunming Institute of Botany Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Yani Meng
East China Normal University
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Zhongping Tian
East China Normal University
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Hong-Wei Zhang
East China Normal University
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Xijin Zhang
East China Normal University
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Yansong Zhang
East China Normal University
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Zhaochen Zhang
East China Normal University
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Shaopeng Li
East China Normal University,
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Jian Zhang
School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University
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Abstract

Forest litter decomposition is considered as an essential ecosystem process affecting carbon and nutrient cycling in mountains. However, there exists high uncertainty in accurately estimating the contribution of litter decomposition to terrestrial ecosystems, largely due to the incomparability of different studies and the data limitation in microclimate and non-climatic factors at spatially matched scales. Here we used the tea bag index (TBI) as a standardized protocol to evaluate spatial variations in forest litter decomposition rate (k) and stabilization factor (S) across 10 mountains spanning a wide range of subtropical and tropical forests. Based on the coordinated experiment of 6,864 teabags in 568 sampling sites along elevations, we evaluated the importance of 10 environmental factors covering soil microclimate, edaphic properties, plant diversity, and topography on k and S by using model averaging and linear-mixed effects models. Of the 10 mountains, we found a consistently decreasing pattern of k and an increasing pattern for S along elevations. And the significant effect of k with elevation was mainly found in the western and northmost mountains, while the effect of S occurred in the western and southernmost mountains. For microclimate, there was a general importance of soil temperature (coef. = 0.48) and temperature variation in the growing season (coef. = 0.36) in k, and soil temperature (coef. = -0.46) and moisture variation on S (coef. = -0.36). The dominant role of soil microclimate was mainly found in western mountains with relatively cold environments. For non-climatic drivers, a significant effect of tree diversity on k and a negative correlation of edaphic and topography with S in the western and southern mountains were detected. These findings provide a general understanding of spatial variations of driving factors in forest litter decomposition and highlight a dominant control of soil microclimate in cold forests in high elevations and latitudes.
08 Feb 2024Assigned to Editor
08 Feb 2024Submission Checks Completed
08 Feb 2024Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending<