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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (3): 416-428    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0054-6
Orginal Article     
Effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and litter layer thickness on litter decomposition of two tree species in a semi-arid site of Northeast China
Bing MAO1, Lei ZHAO1,2, Qiong ZHAO1,3, Dehui ZENG1,3,*()
1 CAS Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
2 College of Horticulture, Jilin Agricultural University, Changchun 130118, China
3 Daqinggou Ecological Station, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
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Forests and grasslands in arid and semi-arid regions receive high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) radiation year-round. However, how the UV radiation affects the litter decomposition on the forest floor remains unclear. Here, we conducted a field-based experiment in 2011 in the southeastern Horqin Sandy Land, Northeast China, to investigate the effects of UV radiation, litter layer thickness, and their interaction on the mass loss and chemical properties of decomposing litter from Xiaozhuan poplar (Populus × xiaozhuanica) and Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) plantation trees. We found that UV radiation accelerated the decomposition rates of both the Xiaozhuan poplar litter and Mongolian pine litter. For both species, the thick-layered litter had a lower mass loss than the thin-layered litter. The interaction between UV radiation and litter layer thickness significantly affected the litter mass loss of both tree species. However, the effects of UV radiation on the chemical properties of decomposing litter differed between the two species, which may be attributed to the contrasting initial leaf litter chemical properties and morphology. UV radiation mostly had positive effects on the lignin concentration and lignin/N ratio of Xiaozhuan poplar litter, while it had negative effects on the N concentration of Mongolian pine litter. Moreover, litter layer thickness and its interaction with UV radiation showed mostly positive effects on the N concentration and lignin/N ratio of Xiaozhuan poplar litter and the ratios of C/N and lignin/N of Mongolian pine litter, and mostly negative effects on the C/N ratio of Xiaozhuan poplar litter and the N concentration of Mongolian pine litter. Together, these results reveal the important roles played by UV radiation and litter layer thickness in the process of litter decomposition in this semi-arid region, and highlight how changes in the litter layer thickness can exert strong influences on the photodegradation of litter in tree plantations.

Key wordslignin      litter decomposition      litter layer thickness      nitrogen      forest plantation      photodegradation      UV radiation     
Received: 12 May 2017      Published: 10 June 2018
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Cite this article:

Bing MAO, Lei ZHAO, Qiong ZHAO, Dehui ZENG. Effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and litter layer thickness on litter decomposition of two tree species in a semi-arid site of Northeast China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(3): 416-428.

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