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Experimental evidence that leaf litter decomposability and flammability are decoupled across gymnosperm species

Citation

Zhang, Shudong et al. (2022), Experimental evidence that leaf litter decomposability and flammability are decoupled across gymnosperm species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.63xsj3v5n

Abstract

1. Biological decomposition and wildfire are two predominant and alternative processes that can mineralize organic C in forest litter. Currently, the relationships between decomposition and fire are still poorly understood.

2. We provide an empirical test of the hypothesized decoupling of surface litter bed decomposability and flammability, and the underlying traits and trait spectra.

3. We employed a 41-species set of gymnosperms of very broad evolutionary and geographic spread, because of the wide range of (absent to frequent) fire regimes they are associated with.

4. We found that the interspecific pattern of mass loss proportions in a “common garden” decomposition experiment was not correlated with any of the flammability parameters and an RDA analysis also showed that the decomposability and flammability of leaf litter were decoupled across species. This decoupling originates from the former depending mostly on SSS traits and the latter on PES traits and those trait spectra being virtually uncorrelated.

5. Synthesis. Our results show that, indeed, leaf litter decomposability and flammability parameters are decoupled across species, and this decoupling can be explained by their different drivers in terms of trait spectra: chemical traits for decomposability and size-shape traits for flammability.

Funding

China Scholarship Council, Award: 201804910633

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 32001132