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Consequences of biodiversity loss for litter decomposition across biomes

Handa, I. Tanya and Aerts, Rien and Berendse, Frank and Berg, Matty P. and Bruder, Andreas and Butenschoen, Olaf and Chauvet, Eric and Gessner, Mark O. and Jabiol, Jérémy and Makkonen, Marika and McKie, Brendan G. and Malmqvist, Björn and Peeters, Edwin T.H.M. and Scheu, Stefan and Schmid, Bernhard and Van Ruijven, Jasper and Vos, Veronique C. A. and Hättenschwiler, Stephan Consequences of biodiversity loss for litter decomposition across biomes. (2014) Nature, 509 (7499). 218-221. ISSN 0028-0836

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13247

Abstract

The decomposition of dead organic matter is a major determinant of carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems, and of carbon fluxes between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Decomposition is driven by a vast diversity of organisms that are structured in complex food webs. Identifying the mechanisms underlying the effects of biodiversity on decomposition is critical given the rapid loss of species worldwide and the effects of this loss on human well-being. Yet despite comprehensive syntheses of studies on how biodiversity affects litter decomposition, key questions remain, including when, where and how biodiversity has a role and whether general patterns and mechanisms occur across ecosystems and different functional types of organism. Here, in field experiments across five terrestrial and aquatic locations, ranging from the subarctic to the tropics, we show that reducing the functional diversity of decomposer organisms and plant litter types slowed the cycling of litter carbon and nitrogen. Moreover, we found evidence of nitrogen transfer from the litter of nitrogen-fixing plants to that of rapidly decomposing plants, but not between other plant functional types, highlighting that specific interactions in litter mixtures control carbon and nitrogen cycling during decomposition. The emergence of this general mechanism and the coherence of patterns across contrasting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems suggest that biodiversity loss has consistent consequences for litter decomposition and the cycling of major elements on broad spatial scales.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Nature Publishing Group editor. The definitive version is available athttp://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v509/n7499/full/nature13247.html
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique - CIRAD (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei - IGB (GERMANY)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - INPT (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - IRD (FRANCE)
Other partners > Montpellier SupAgro (FRANCE)
Other partners > Finnish Environment Institute - SYKE (FINLAND)
Other partners > Technische Universität Berlin - TU Berlin (GERMANY)
Other partners > Umea University (SWEDEN)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UPS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université de Montpellier 1 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université de Montpellier 2 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université du Québec à Montréal - UQAM (CANADA)
Other partners > Wageningen University & Research - WUR (NETHERLANDS)
Other partners > Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology - EAWAG (SWITZERLAND)
Other partners > Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes - EPHE (FRANCE)
Other partners > Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (GERMANY)
Other partners > Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet - SLU (SWEDEN)
Other partners > Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich - ETHZ (SWITZERLAND)
Other partners > Université de Montpellier 3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Vrije University Amsterdam - VU (NETHERLANDS)
Other partners > Universität Zürich - UZH (SWITZERLAND)
Laboratory name:
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Deposited By: Eric Chauvet
Deposited On:20 May 2014 09:15

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