Title

A Literature Synthesis Resolves Litter Intrinsic Constraints On Fungal Dynamics and Decomposition Across Standing Dead Macrophytes

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2021

Department

Biological Sciences

School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Abstract

The standing dead phase is an important stage in the decomposition of emergent vegetation in marsh wetlands, yet few studies have examined how intrinsic litter traits constrain rates of standing litter decomposition or fungal colonization across plant tissue types or species. To address broad constraints on the decomposition of standing dead litter, we conducted a systematic survey of emergent standing dead decomposition studies that measured decay rates and/or fungal biomass, and litter % lignin, carbon:nitrogen (C:N) and/or carbon:phosphorus (C:P). Across 52 datasets, litter of low C:N and C:P ratios exhibited increased decomposition rates (r = −0.737 and −0.645, respectively), whereas % lignin was not significantly correlated with decomposition rates (r = 0.149). Mixed-effects models for litter decomposition rates indicated significant effects of litter molar C:N and C:N + lignin as an additive model, with the former providing marginally better support. Litter % lignin, however, was strongly negatively correlated with fungal biomass (r = −0.669), indicating greater fungal colonization of low-lignin litter, and not correlated with C:N (r = −0.337) and C:P (r = −0.456) ratios. The best-supported model predicting fungal biomass was litter molar C:N, with the C:N + lignin additive model also showing significant effects. Fungal carbon-use efficiency (CUE) also had a strong negative correlation with % lignin (r = −0.604), molar C:N (r = −0.323) and C:P (r = −0.632) across datasets. Our study demonstrates the constraining effects that litter stoichiometry and % lignin elicit on decomposition of standing dead litter and fungal colonization, respectively. These findings improve our understanding of biogeochemical cycling and prediction of the fates of C and nutrients in wetlands.

Publication Title

Oikos

Volume

130

Issue

6

First Page

958

Last Page

968

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