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|Functional identity drives tree species richness-induced increases in litterfall production and forest floor mass in young tree communities
selection effect hypothesis
|Wan X, Joly F, Jia H, Zhu M, Fu Y & Huang Z (2023) Functional identity drives tree species richness-induced increases in litterfall production and forest floor mass in young tree communities. <i>New Phytologist</i>, 240 (3), pp. 1003-1014. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.19216
|- Forest floor accumulation is a key process that influences ecosystem carbon cycling. Despite evidence suggesting that tree diversity and soil carbon are positively correlated, most soil carbon studies typically omit the response of the forest floor carbon to tree diversity loss. - Here, we evaluated how tree species richness affects forest floor mass and how this effect is mediated by litterfall production and forest floor decay rate in a tree diversity experiment in a subtropical forest. - We observed that greater tree species richness leads to higher forest floor accumulation at the soil surface through increasing litterfall production – positively linked to functional trait identity (i.e. community-weighted mean functional trait) rather than functional diversity – and unchanged forest floor decay. Interestingly, structural equation modelling revealed that this lack of overall significant tree species richness effect on forest floor decay rate was due to two indirect and opposite effects cancelling each other out. Indeed, tree species richness increased forest floor decay rate through increasing litterfall production while decreasing forest floor decay rate by increasing litter species richness. - Our reports of greater organic matter accumulation in the forest floor in species-rich forests suggest that tree diversity may have long-term and important effect on ecosystem carbon cycling and services.
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