Litter stoichiometric traits of plant species of high-latitude ecosystems show high responsiveness to global change without causing strong variation in litter decomposition
Article first published online: 13 AUG 2012
© 2012 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2012 New Phytologist Trust
Volume 196, Issue 1, pages 181–188, October 2012
How to Cite
Aerts, R., van Bodegom, P. M. and Cornelissen, J. H. C. (2012), Litter stoichiometric traits of plant species of high-latitude ecosystems show high responsiveness to global change without causing strong variation in litter decomposition. New Phytologist, 196: 181–188. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04256.x
- Issue published online: 24 AUG 2012
- Article first published online: 13 AUG 2012
- Received: 29 March 2012, Accepted: 26 June 2012
- global change;
- high-latitude ecosystems;
- litter decomposition;
- litter stoichiometry;
- Plant Economics Spectrum
- •High-latitude ecosystems are important carbon accumulators, mainly as a result of low decomposition rates of litter and soil organic matter. We investigated whether global change impacts on litter decomposition rates are constrained by litter stoichiometry.
- •Thereto, we investigated the interspecific natural variation in litter stoichiometric traits (LSTs) in high-latitude ecosystems, and compared it with climate change-induced LST variation measured in the Meeting of Litters (MOL) experiment. This experiment includes leaf litters originating from 33 circumpolar and high-altitude global change experiments. Two-year decomposition rates of litters from these experiments were measured earlier in two common litter beds in sub-Arctic Sweden.
- •Response ratios of LSTs in plants of high-latitude ecosystems in the global change treatments showed a three-fold variation, and this was in the same range as the natural variation among species. However, response ratios of decomposition were about an order of magnitude lower than those of litter carbon/nitrogen ratios.
- •This implies that litter stoichiometry does not constrain the response of plant litter decomposition to global change. We suggest that responsiveness is rather constrained by the less responsive traits of the Plant Economics Spectrum of litter decomposability, such as lignin and dry matter content and specific leaf area.