Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (8): 648-657.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2019.0097

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Litter decomposition and its underlying mechanisms

JIA Bing-Rui()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
  • Received:2019-04-27 Revised:2019-07-10 Online:2019-08-20 Published:2020-01-03
  • Contact: JIA Bing-Rui ORCID:0000-0001-9662-0738
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFC0503906);China Special Fund for Meteorological Research in the Public Interest(气象科研专项经费项目GYHY201406034)


In order to understand the research progress of litter decomposition and its underlying mechanisms, this paper presented a bibliometric analysis of litter decomposition in China from 1986 to 2018 based on the four common literature databases, including CNKI, ISI Web of Science, ScienceDirect and Springer Link. Litter decomposition researches are mainly from forest ecosystems (65%), and focus on above-ground litter. This suggests that the studies on below-ground litter decomposition should be strengthened in the future. About 68% studies focused on the litters from dominant species, which couldn’t represent the natural decomposition characteristics due to the mixed effects among litters from multiple species. Besides carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, we should pay more attention to other key chemical components related with decomposition (e.g. K, Fe, Mn, lignin, tannin, etc.) and the heavy metal elements related with environmental pollution. Meanwhile, ecological stoichiometry is an effective method to interlink the biogeochemical cycle in the plant-litter-soil system. Nitrogen deposition and climate change are hot topics in the field of litter decomposition, especially the interactions of multiple factors (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.), temperature sensitivity of litter decomposition and underlying mechanisms in permafrost under climate warming context.

Key words: litter decomposition, China, bibliometrics, ecological stoichiometry