In peatlands the reduced decomposition rate of plant litter is the fundamental mechanism making these peat-accumulating ecosystems effective carbon sinks. A better knowledge of litter decomposition and nutrient cycling is thus crucial to improve our predictions of the effects of anthropogenic perturbation on the capacity of peatlands to continue to behave as carbon sinks. We investigated patterns of plant litter decomposition and nutrient release along a minerotrophic-ombrotrophic gradient in a bog on the south-eastern Alps of Italy. We determined mass loss as well as P, N, K, and C release of seven vascular plant species and four moss species after 1 year in both native and transplanted habitats. Hence, differences in litter decay were supposed to reflect the degree of adaptability of microbial communities to litter quality. Polyphenols/nutrient and C/nutrient quotients appeared as the main parameters accounting for decomposition rates of Sphagnum litter. In particular, litter of minerotrophic Sphagnum species decomposed always faster than litter of ombrotrophic Sphagnum species, both in native and transplanted habitats. Decomposition rates of vascular plant litter in native habitats were always higher than the corresponding mass loss rates of Sphagnum litter. Minerotrophic forbs showed the fastest decomposition both in native and transplanted habitats in accordance with low C/P and C/N litter quotients. On the other hand, C/P quotient seems to play a primary role also in controlling decomposition of graminoids. Decomposition of deciduous and evergreen shrubs was negatively related to their high lignin content. Nitrogen release from Sphagnum litter was primarily controlled by C/N quotient, so that minerotrophic Sphagnum litter released more N than ombrotrophic Sphagnum litter. Overall, we observed slower N release from litter of ombrotrophic vascular plant species compared to minerotrophic vascular plant species. No single chemical parameter could predict the variability associated with different functional groups. The release of K was very high compared to all the other nutrients and rather similar between ombrotrophic and minerotrophic litter types. In Sphagnum litter, a higher C/P quotient was associated with a slower P mineralisation, whereas a faster P release from vascular plant litter seems primarily associated with lower C/P and polyphenols/P quotients.

Mass loss and nutrient release during litter decay in peatland: the role of microbial adaptability to litter chemistry

BRAGAZZA, Luca;SIFFI, Chiara;GERDOL, Renato
2007

Abstract

In peatlands the reduced decomposition rate of plant litter is the fundamental mechanism making these peat-accumulating ecosystems effective carbon sinks. A better knowledge of litter decomposition and nutrient cycling is thus crucial to improve our predictions of the effects of anthropogenic perturbation on the capacity of peatlands to continue to behave as carbon sinks. We investigated patterns of plant litter decomposition and nutrient release along a minerotrophic-ombrotrophic gradient in a bog on the south-eastern Alps of Italy. We determined mass loss as well as P, N, K, and C release of seven vascular plant species and four moss species after 1 year in both native and transplanted habitats. Hence, differences in litter decay were supposed to reflect the degree of adaptability of microbial communities to litter quality. Polyphenols/nutrient and C/nutrient quotients appeared as the main parameters accounting for decomposition rates of Sphagnum litter. In particular, litter of minerotrophic Sphagnum species decomposed always faster than litter of ombrotrophic Sphagnum species, both in native and transplanted habitats. Decomposition rates of vascular plant litter in native habitats were always higher than the corresponding mass loss rates of Sphagnum litter. Minerotrophic forbs showed the fastest decomposition both in native and transplanted habitats in accordance with low C/P and C/N litter quotients. On the other hand, C/P quotient seems to play a primary role also in controlling decomposition of graminoids. Decomposition of deciduous and evergreen shrubs was negatively related to their high lignin content. Nitrogen release from Sphagnum litter was primarily controlled by C/N quotient, so that minerotrophic Sphagnum litter released more N than ombrotrophic Sphagnum litter. Overall, we observed slower N release from litter of ombrotrophic vascular plant species compared to minerotrophic vascular plant species. No single chemical parameter could predict the variability associated with different functional groups. The release of K was very high compared to all the other nutrients and rather similar between ombrotrophic and minerotrophic litter types. In Sphagnum litter, a higher C/P quotient was associated with a slower P mineralisation, whereas a faster P release from vascular plant litter seems primarily associated with lower C/P and polyphenols/P quotients.
2007
Bragazza, Luca; Siffi, Chiara; Iacumin, P.; Gerdol, Renato
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/518531
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