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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Dependency of litter decomposition on litter quality, climate change, and grassland type in the alpine grassland of Tianshan Mountains, Northwest China

Abstract

Litter decomposition is an important component of the nutrient recycling process and is highly sensitive to climate change. However, the impacts of warming and increased precipitation on litter decomposition have not been well studied, especially in the alpine grassland of Tianshan Mountains. We conducted a manipulative warming and increased precipitation experiment combined with different grassland types to examine the impact of litter quality and climate change on the litter decomposition rate based on three dominant species (Astragalus mongholicus, Potentilla anserina, and Festuca ovina) in Tianshan Mountains from 2019 to 2021. The results of this study indicated there were significant differences in litter quality, specific leaf area, and leaf dry matter content. In addition, litter quality exerted significant effects on litter decomposition, and the litter decomposition rate varied in different grassland types. Increased precipitation significantly accelerated the litter decomposition of P. anserina; however, it had no significant effect on the litter decomposition of A. mongholicus and F. ovina. However, warming consistently decreased the litter decomposition rate, with the strongest impact on the litter decomposition of F. ovina. There was a significant interaction between increased precipitation and litter type, but there was no significant interaction between warming and litter type. These results indicated that warming and increased precipitation significantly influenced litter decomposition; however, the strength was dependent on litter quality. In addition, soil water content played a crucial role in regulating litter decomposition in different grassland types. Moreover, we found that the litter decomposition rate exhibited a hump-shaped or linear response to the increase of soil water content. Our study emphasizes that ongoing climate change significantly altered litter decomposition in the alpine grassland, which is of great significance for understanding the nutrient supply and turnover of litter.

Keywords

litter decomposition rate; litter quality; warming; increased precipitation; grassland type; Tianshan Mountains

First Page

691

Last Page

703

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