Title: Effects of Terrain on Litter Decomposition and Nutrient Release in Typical Steppe of Eastern Gansu Loess Plateau
Authors: An Hu, Jay Angerer, Yaning Duan, Lei Xu, Shenghua Chang, Xianjiang Chen, Fujiang Hou?
Journal: Rangeland Ecology & Management
Impact Factor: IF2019=2.095 (农林科学三区)
Abstract: Terrain can influence vegetation composition, diversity, and biogeochemical cycling in grassland ecosystems. Solar radiation, soil temperature, and moisture distribution are dependent on terrain, which, in turn, can affect plant community structure, rate of litter mass decomposition, and carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus release. A litter decomposition experiment was conducted over 12 mo at a site representing typical steppe grasslands to better understand the effects of terrain on biogeochemical cycling. The study site had both northeast (shaded) and southwest (sunny) facing aspects with each aspect having three slopes: 15°, 30°, 45°. Litterbags were used for collection of plant community litter from each location. The results indicated that slope and aspect both have significant effects on decomposition rate of litter mass and release rate of C, N, and P. The most rapid decomposition rate of litter mass was on 45° sunny slopes (k value 1.82 ×10–3 d?1). The most rapid release of C was on 30° shaded slopes with release rate of 4.54 g C yr–1. The release rate of N decreased with increasing slope steepness but was more rapid on shaded compared with sunny slopes. The most rapid release of P (10.51 mg P yr–1) occurred on 45° shaded slopes. The total effects of solar radiation and soil temperature on litter mass decomposition were larger, with 0.91 and 0.93, respectively. Soil temperature, litter functional diversity, and initial C/N had positive effects on the litter C release. The release of litter N was mainly promoted by soil temperature. Soil moisture appeared to promote the release of litter P. Overall, terrain influenced litter mass decomposition and C, N, and P release by its effect on the distribution of solar radiation, soil temperature and moisture, and through modification of functional diversity, initial C/N ratios, and water content of litter in typical steppe.