Up to 90 % of plant production enters the dead organic matter pool, making decomposition a key component of ecosystem functioning. At the moment it is not clear how biodiversity loss may affect this important process, but changes across trophic levels are likely to alter decomposition. To test this, we simultaneously manipulated leaf litter and macro-detritivore diversity in a large field experiment. Importantly, leaf litter mixtures were selected to cover a gradient in dissimilarity in key litter traits. This allowed us to compare the relative importance of species and functional litter diversity. The additive partitioning method was used to gain further insight into the underlying mechanisms. Our results show that litter diversity effects only occurred in the presence of macro-detritivores. The individual animal species affected mass loss and diversity effects differently Animal diversity affected mass loss but not the net diversity effects while litter diversity affected both .Litter dissimilarity had no overall effect on mass loss, it was important for litter diversity effects. Dissimilarity was positively correlated to complementarity effects and showed a negative relationship with selection effects. We conclude that functional litter diversity and detritivore presence are important for decomposition of litter mixtures, whereas detritivore diversity is probably less important.
|Publication status||Published - 2010|
|Event||Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting NERN - Lunteren, Netherlands|
Duration: 9 Feb 2010 → 10 Feb 2010
|Conference||Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting NERN|
|Period||9/02/10 → 10/02/10|