Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2010, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (9): 1007-1015.doi: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2010.09.001

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Litter stocks and chemical quality of natural birch forests along temperature and precipitation gradients in eastern Inner Mongolia, China

CHEN Sha-Sha1; LIU Hong-Yan1,2; and GUO Da-Li1,2*   

  1. 1Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;

    2Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China<
  • Received:2010-04-22 Online:2010-10-08 Published:2010-09-01
  • Contact: GUO Da-Li

Abstract: Aims Forest litter is both a large source of CO2 released from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere and a critical sink of carbon and nutrients for plant growth. Studying dynamics of forest litter and its response to temperature and precipitation changes can improve our understanding of forest carbon and nutrient cycles and their interactions with projected climate change. Our objective was to examine the stocks and chemical quality of forest litter in natural birch (Betula platyphylla) forests that vary in both annual mean temperature (AMT) and annual mean precipitation (AMP). Methods During July and August 2008, we measured the standing stocks and concentrations of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus and organic fractions (extractives, acid soluble fraction (AS) and acid insoluble fraction (AIF)) of three litter layers (L1: slightly decomposed layer, L2: half-decomposed layer and L3: humus layer) in the forest floor of 12 birch forests in Inner Mongolia, China. Important findings Along the decomposition gradient (i.e., from L1 to L3), nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations increased, AS concentration decreased, AIF concentration increased but extractives did not show significant change. Temperature and precipitation did not have significant effects on carbon fractions but at sites where AMT was higher, carbon stocks in L3 layer were higher, probably because of greater accumulation at higher-temperature sites as a result of higher litter production but similar decomposition rate compared to lower-temperature sites. These findings indicate that the litter layer (particularly the L3 layer) is an important carbon and nutrient pool at the ecosystem scale and future increases in temperature without concurrent increases in precipitation may enhance litter accumulation in these natural birch forests.

Alarcon-Gutierrez E, Floch C, Ziarelli F, Albrecht R, Le Petit J,Augur C, Criquet S (2008). Characterization of a Mediterranean litter by C-13 CPMAS NMR: relationships between litter depth, enzyme activities and temperature.European Journal of Soil Science, 59, 486-495.
Albers D, Migge S, Schaefer M, Scheu S (2004). Decomposition of beech leaves (Fagus sylvatica) and spruce needles (Picea abies) in pure and mixed stands of beech and spruce. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 36,155-164.
Almendros G, Dorado J, Gonzalez-Vila FJ, Blanco MJ, Lankes U (2000). C-13 NMR assessment of decomposition patterns during composting of forest and shrub biomass. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 32, 793-804.
Berg B (2000). Litter decomposition and organic matter turnover in northern forest soils. Forest Ecology and Management, 133, 13-22.
Gholz HL, Wedin DA, Smitherman SM, Harmon ME, Parton WJ (2000). Long-term dynamics of pine and hardwood litter in contrasting environments: toward a global model of decomposition. Global Change Biology, 6, 751-765.
Graca M, Barlocher F, Gessner M (2005). Methods to Study Litter Decomposition: a Practical Guide. Part 2. Springer,Berlin. 115-120.
Grant RF, Margolis HA, Barr AG, Black TA, Dunn AL, Bernier PY, Bergeron O (2009). Changes in net ecosystem productivity of boreal black spruce stands in response to changes in temperature at diurnal and seasonal time scales.Tree Physiology, 29, 1-17.
Hilli S, Stark S, Derome J (2008). Carbon quality and stocks in organic horizons in boreal forest soils. Ecosystems, 11,270-282.
Hobbie SE, Reich PB, Oleksyn J, Ogdahl M, Zytkowiak R,Hale C, Karolewski P (2006). Tree species effects on decomposition and forest floor dynamics in a common garden. Ecology, 87, 2288-2297.
Jin HL, Su ZZ, Sun LY, Sun Z, Zhang H, Jin LY (2004).Holocene climatic change in Hunshandake Desert. Chinese Science Bulletin, 49, 1730-1735.
Kogel-Knabner I (2002). The macromolecular organic composition of plant and microbial residues as inputs to soil organic matter. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 34,139-162.
Kuo S (1996). Phosphorus. In: Bigham JM ed. Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 3. Chemical Methods. Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Madison,Wis. 869-919.
Lin B (林波), Liu Q (刘庆), Wu Y (吴彦), He H (何海) (2004).Advances in the studies of forest litter. Chinese Journal of Ecology (生态学杂志), 23, 60-64. (in Chinese with English abstract)
Lindahl BD, Ihrmark K, Boberg J, Trumbore SE, Hogberg P,Stenlid J, Finlay RD (2007). Spatial separation of litter decomposition and mycorrhizal nitrogen uptake in a boreal forest. New Phytologist, 173, 611-620.
Liu CJ, Westman CJ, Berg B, Kutsch W, Wang GZ, Man RZ,Ilvesniemi H (2004). Variation in litterfall-climate relationships between coniferous and broadleaf forests in Eurasia. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 13, 105-114.
Liu WX, Zhang Z, Wan SQ (2009). Predominant role of water in regulating soil and microbial respiration and their responses to climate change in a semiarid grassland. Global Change Biology, 15, 184-195.
Melillo JM, Aber JD, Linkins AE, Ricca A, Fry B, Nadelhoffer KJ (1989). Carbon and nitrogen dynamics along the decay continuum: plant litter to soil organic matter. Plant and Soil, 115, 189-198.
Parton W, Silver WL, Burke IC, Grassens L, Harmon ME,Currie WS, King JY, Adair EC, Brandt LA, Hart SC,Fasth B (2007). Global-scale similarities in nitrogen release patterns during long-term decomposition. Science,315, 361-364.
Polyakova O, Billor N (2007). Impact of deciduous tree species on litterfall quality, decomposition rates and nutrient circulation in pine stands. Forest Ecology and Management, 253, 11-18.
Sjoberg G, Nilsson SI, Persson T, Karlsson P (2004).Degradation of hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin in decomposing spruce needle litter in relation to N. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 36, 1761-1768.
Wang CK (王传宽), Yang JY (杨金艳) (2005). Carbon dioxide fluxes from soil respiration and woody debris decomposition in boreal forests. Acta Ecologica Sinica (生态学报), 25, 633-638. (in Chinese with English abstract)
Welp LR, Randerson JT, Liu HP (2007). The sensitivity of carbon fluxes to spring warming and summer drought depends on plant functional type in boreal forestecosystems. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 147,172-185.
Zhang DQ (张德强), Yu QF (余清发), Kong GH (孔国辉), Zhang YC (张佑倡) (1998). Chemical properties of forest floor litter in Dinghushan monsoon evergreen broadleaved forest. Acta Ecologica Sinica (生态学报), 18, 96-100. (in Chinese with English abstract)
Zhong GH (钟国辉), Xin XB (辛学兵) (2004). Chemical properties of litter in dark coniferous forest of Sejila Mountains in Tibet. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology (应用生态学报), 15, 167-169. (in Chinese with English abstract)
No related articles found!
Full text



[1] . [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(专辑): 19 .
[2] Xiao Xiao and Cheng Zhen-qi. Chloroplast 4.5 S ribosomol DNA. II Gene and Origin[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1985, 3(06): 7 -9 .
[3] CAO Cui-LingLI Sheng-Xiu. Effect of Nitrogen Level on the Photosynthetic Rate, NR Activity and the Contents of Nucleic Acid of Wheat Leaf in the Stage of Reproduction[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2003, 20(03): 319 -324 .
[4] SONG Li-Ying TAN Zheng GAO Feng DENG Shu-Yan. Advances in in vitro Culture of Cucurbitaceae in China[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2004, 21(03): 360 -366 .
[5] . [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(专辑): 76 .
[6] LI Jun-De YANG Jian WANG Yu-Fei. Aquatic Plants in the Miocene Shanwang Flora[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2000, 17(专辑): 261 .
[7] Sun Zhen-xiao Xia Guang-min Chen Hui-min. Karyotype Analysis of Psathyrostachys juncea[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1995, 12(01): 56 .
[8] . [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(专辑): 8 -9 .
[9] Yunpu Zheng;Jiancheng Zhao * ;Bingchang Zhang;Lin Li;Yuanming Zhang . Advances on Ecological Studies of Algae and Mosses in Biological Soil Crust[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2009, 44(03): 371 -378 .
[10] Zili Wu, Mengyao Yu, Lu Chen, Jing Wei, Xiaoqin Wang, Yong Hu, Yan Yan, Ping Wan. Transcriptome Analysis of Physcomitrella patens Response to Cadmium Stress by Bayesian Network[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2015, 50(2): 171 -179 .