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Forest soil acidification consistently reduces litter decomposition irrespective of nutrient availability and litter type

Citation

Shen, Ying et al. (2021), Forest soil acidification consistently reduces litter decomposition irrespective of nutrient availability and litter type, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.08kprr51j

Abstract

Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and acid deposition are co-occurring in many ecosystems, likely with complex interactive effects on litter decomposition.

Few studies have been conducted to distinguish the interactive effects of these three factors on forest litter decomposition. Thus, we performed a 5-year litter decomposition experiment with N, P, acid addition in a temperate forest of Changbai Mountain in China, including four litter types from Pinus koraiensis, Quercus mongolica, Tilia amurensis and their mixtures.

Our results showed that acid addition consistently reduced litter decomposition rate, irrespective of nutrient addition or litter types. In contrast, N and P addition had less impact on litter decomposition. Litter decomposition rate linearly reduced with decreasing soil pH, but positively increased with soil N availability. No relationship was found between soil P availability and litter decomposition. Soil enzyme activity played a key role in regulating litter decomposition response, such as acid phosphatase, xylosidase, N-cacetyl-b-D-glucosaminidase and α-1,4 glucosidase. Besides, low-quality litter (i.e. high C concentration, C:N and C:P ratio) amplified the negative effect of soil acidification on litter decomposition.

This study suggests that soil acidification consistently decelerates litter decomposition in temperate forests, which is independent of soil nutrient availability and litter types. The intensifying soil acidification with continuous N deposition in the future will greatly reduce litter nutrient return to soil, increasing the risk of multiple soil nutrient limitation.