Quantifying the synchrony of leaf litter decomposition in a forested landscape Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/b5644t48p

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  • Plant litter decomposition plays an important role in the global carbon cycle, and contributes large amounts of carbon to soils, which store more carbon than any other terrestrial pool of organic matter. Decomposition plays a fundamental role in nutrient cycling and alters soil properties that shape plant community composition and growth. This study aimed to determine the degree leaf litter decomposition rates vary synchronously from year to year among nearby sites. Litter decomposition rates were determined using a litter bag study conducted at 14 sites in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon over multiple five year periods. A strong relationship between lignin:N and first year decomposition rate was found, but little to no relationship between climate and first year decomposition rate was observed. Inconsistent synchrony was observed between sites, implying that variation in first year decomposition values at the H. J. Andrews is mostly random in regards to climate. The lack of synchrony in first year decomposition rates at the HJA suggests that localized decomposition rates should not be extrapolated across a complex, mountainous landscape.
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