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Litter decomposition of alpine meadow under seasonal snow cover(PDF)

Chinese Journal of Applied & Environmental Biology[ISSN:1006-687X/CN:51-1482/Q]

2019 01
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Litter decomposition of alpine meadow under seasonal snow cover
ZHOU Tianyang1 2 WANG Jinniu1 4** DU Wentao3 XU Bo5 ZHOU Haiyan6 XIE Yu1 & WU Yan 1**
1 Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China2 University of Chinese Academy Sciences, Beijing 100049, China3 State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-environment and Resource, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China4 International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal5 Aba Teachers University, Aba 623002, China6 Neijiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Neijiang 641000, China
litter production decomposition rate snow bed soil microbial biomass carbon soil microbial biomass nitrogen soil temperature

Litter decomposition is an important part of the biogeochemical cycles in alpine meadows of eastern Tibetan Plateau under long-lasting snow cover. This study aimed to calculate annual plant litter production and determine appropriate litter mass in a fixed-area litterbag. Subsequently, the decomposition rate of plant litter was compared under different snow depths. Lastly, the relationship of litter decomposition rate with soil microbial biomass was analyzed. The annual litter production per unit area was calculated by using the quadrat method at two typical topographic sites. A double-faced litter bag was applied to get suitable litter mass for packing and to evaluate litter decomposition rates under four different snow cover treatments, i.e. deep snow cover (Deep), shallow snow cover (Shallow), without snow cover (None), and artificial snow cover (Artificial). Soil temperature and soil microbial biomass were also measured and logged over the entire experimental period. The results indicated that 1) the in situ plant litter production was approximately 90 g/m2; 2) the litter decomposition rate showed a negative linear regression with the litter mass in the litterbag with fixed-area, and 3 g of litter mass was the appropriate amount to measure decomposition rates in this study; 3) soil temperature and litter decomposition rate increased with increasing depth of snow cover, which also promoted the accumulation of soil microbial biomass. The litter decomposition rate and soil microbial biomass were the highest (decomposition rate: 10.15%; MBC: 156.37 mg/kg; MBN: 75.89 mg/kg) under maximum snow depth and the lowest (decomposition rate: 3.07%; MBC: 65.38 mg/kg; MBN: 20.17 mg/kg) in the treatment without snow cover, respectively. The above results demonstrated that many ecological processes in winter could persist because of the insulation effect of the snow cover formed at near-freezing temperatures. Therefore, the variation of snowpack accumulation not only alters the litter decomposition rate, but can also affect the structure and function of an alpine meadow ecosystem in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.


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Last Update: 2019-02-25