Climate and litter quality differently modulate the effects of soil fauna on litter decomposition across biomes

Pablo García-Palacios*, Fernando T. Maestre, Jens Kattge, Diana H. Wall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

439 Scopus citations

Abstract

Climate and litter quality have been identified as major drivers of litter decomposition at large spatial scales. However, the role played by soil fauna remains largely unknown, despite its importance for litter fragmentation and microbial activity. We synthesised litterbag studies to quantify the effect sizes of soil fauna on litter decomposition rates at the global and biome scales, and to assess how climate, litter quality and soil fauna interact to determine such rates. Soil fauna consistently enhanced litter decomposition at both global and biome scales (average increment ~ 27%). However, climate and litter quality differently modulated the effects of soil fauna on decomposition rates between biomes, from climate-driven biomes to those where climate effects were mediated by changes in litter quality. Our results advocate for the inclusion of biome-specific soil fauna effects on litter decomposition as a mean to reduce the unexplained variation in large-scale decomposition models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1053
Number of pages9
JournalEcology letters
Volume16
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013

Keywords

  • Carbon dynamics
  • Climate
  • Litter C : N ratio
  • Litter decomposition
  • Litter quality
  • Meta-analysis
  • Soil fauna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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