Leaf litter identity rather than diversity shapes microbial functions and microarthropod abundance in tropical montane rainforests

2021 | journal article; research paper. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Leaf litter identity rather than diversity shapes microbial functions and microarthropod abundance in tropical montane rainforests​
Sánchez‐Galindo, L. M.; Sandmann, D. ; Marian, F.; Krashevska, V. ; Maraun, M.   & Scheu, S. ​ (2021) 
Ecology and Evolution11(5) pp. 2360​-2374​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7208 

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Authors
Sánchez‐Galindo, Laura M.; Sandmann, Dorothee ; Marian, Franca; Krashevska, Valentyna ; Maraun, Mark ; Scheu, Stefan 
Abstract
Abstract In tropical forest ecosystems leaf litter from a large variety of species enters the decomposer system, however, the impact of leaf litter diversity on the abundance and activity of soil organisms during decomposition is little known. We investigated the effect of leaf litter diversity and identity on microbial functions and the abundance of microarthropods in Ecuadorian tropical montane rainforests. We used litterbags filled with leaves of six native tree species (Cecropia andina, Dictyocaryum lamarckianum, Myrcia pubescens, Cavendishia zamorensis, Graffenrieda emarginata, and Clusia spp.) and incubated monocultures and all possible two‐ and four‐species combinations in the field for 6 and 12 months. Mass loss, microbial biomass, basal respiration, metabolic quotient, and the slope of microbial growth after glucose addition, as well as the abundance of microarthropods (Acari and Collembola), were measured at both sampling dates. Leaf litter diversity significantly increased mass loss after 6 months of exposure, but reduced microbial biomass after 12 months of exposure. Leaf litter species identity significantly changed both microbial activity and microarthropod abundance with species of high quality (low C‐to‐N ratio), such as C. andina, improving resource quality as indicated by lower metabolic quotient and higher abundance of microarthropods. Nonetheless, species of low quality, such as Clusia spp., also increased the abundance of Oribatida suggesting that leaf litter chemical composition alone is insufficient to explain variation in the abundances of soil microarthropods. Overall, the results provide evidence that decomposition and microbial biomass in litter respond to leaf litter diversity as well as litter identity (chemical and physical characteristics), while microarthropods respond only to litter identity but not litter diversity.
Leaf litter identity functions as a major driver of the abundance and activity of soil organisms in tropical montane rainforests. image
Issue Date
2021
Journal
Ecology and Evolution 
Organization
Zentrum für Biodiversität und Nachhaltige Landnutzung ; Abteilung Tierökologie 
ISSN
2045-7758
eISSN
2045-7758
Language
English
Sponsor
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2021

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