Data from: Riparian leaf litter decomposition on pond bottom after a retention on floating vegetation
Zhang, Ya-Lin et al. (2019), Data from: Riparian leaf litter decomposition on pond bottom after a retention on floating vegetation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.392gf43
Allochthonous (e.g., riparian) plant litter is among the organic matter resources that are important for wetland ecosystems. A compact canopy of free-floating vegetation on the water surface may allow for riparian litter to remain on it for a period of time before sinking to the bottom. Thus, we hypothesised that canopy of free-floating vegetation may slow decomposition processes in wetlands. To test the hypothesis that the retention of riparian leaf litter on the free-floating vegetation in wetlands affects their subsequent decomposition on the bottom of wetlands, a 50-day in situ decomposition experiment was performed in a wetland pond in subtropical China, in which litter bags of single species with fine (0.5 mm) or coarse (2.0 mm) mesh sizes were placed on free-floating vegetation (dominated by Eichhornia crassipes, Lemna minor and Salvinia molesta) for 25 days and then moved to the pond bottom for another 25 days or remained on the pond bottom for 50 days. The leaf litter was collected from three riparian species, i.e., Cinnamomum camphora, Diospyros kaki and Phyllostachys propinqua. The retention of riparian leaf litter on free-floating vegetation had significant negative effect on the carbon loss, marginal negative effects on the mass loss and no effect on the nitrogen loss from leaf litter, partially supporting the hypothesis. Similarly, the mass and carbon losses from leaf litter decomposing on the pond bottom for the first 25 days of the experiment were greater than those from the litter decomposing on free-floating vegetation. Our results highlight that in wetlands, free-floating vegetation could play a vital role in litter decomposition, which is linked to the regulation of nutrient cycling in ecosystems.