Mutual effects between Pinus armandii and broadleaf litter during mixed decomposition

Xiaoxi Zhang, Boya Wang, Zengwen Liu


Mixed-decomposition effects are commonly observed in natural and planted forests and affect nutrient cycling in a forest ecosystem. However, how one litter type affects the decomposition of another is still poorly understood. In this study, Pinus armandii litter was mixed with Betula albosinensis, Catalpa fargesii, Populus purdomii, Eucommia ulmoides, and Acer tsinglingense litter. The mixtures were placed in litterbags and buried in soil with consistent moisture for a 180-day indoor simulated decomposition experiment. The litterbags were periodically harvested during decomposition; the litter residues of different species were separated, and the biomass dynamics of each litter type were simulated. In addition, the soil sucrase, cellulase and polyphenol oxidase activities were also detected three times. The mutual effects of needle and broadleaf litter during mixed decomposition and the possible underlying mechanisms were investigated. The results indicated that (i) during the decomposition experiment, P. armandii needles significantly inhibited the decomposition of broadleaf litter in the first 3 months, while the broadleaf litter accelerated the decomposition of P. armandii needles in only approximately 40% of the cases. However, the inhibitory effects of needles on broadleaf litter decomposition subsequently exhibited significant weakening, while the accelerating effects of broadleaf litter were significantly enhanced. The effects of mixed decomposition on the activities of three enzymes can only partially explain the interactions between different litter types; (ii) the prediction by the decomposition model showed that most of the broadleaf litter types could continuously accelerate the decomposition of P. armandii needles throughout the mixed decomposition process, while the decomposition of broadleaf litter would be significantly inhibited at least in the short term. In general, four of the five broadleaf litter types (excluding E. ulmoides) could accelerate the early decomposition of P. armandii needles and consequently accelerate nutrient cycling in P. armandii pure forests. These species could be used for the transformation of pure P. armandii pure forests to mixed forests.


Pinus armandii pure forests; soil enzymatic activities; mixed litter decomposition

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