Effects of elevated CO2 and nitrogen fertilization pretreatments on decomposition on tallgrass prairie leaf litter


Journal Article

Standing dead and green foliage litter was collected in early November 1990 from Andropogon gerardii (C4), Sorghastrum nutans (C4), and Poa pratensis (C3) plants that were grown in large open-top chambers under ambient or twice ambient CO2 and with or without nitrogen fertilization (45 kg N ha-1). The litter was placed in mesh bags on the soil surface of pristine prairie adjacent to the growth treatment plots and allowed to decay under natural conditions. Litter bags were retrieved at fixed intervals and litter was analyzed for mass loss, carbon chemistry, and total Kjeldahl nitrogen and phosphorus. The results indicate that growth treatments had a relatively minor effect on the initial chemical composition of the litter and its subsequent rate of decay or chemical composition. This suggests that a large indirect effect of CO2 on surface litter decomposition in the tallgrass prairie would not occur by way of changes in chemistry of leaf litter. However, there was a large difference in characteristics of leaf litter decomposition among the species. Poa leaf litter had a different initial chemistry and decayed more rapidly than C4 grasses. We conclude that an indirect effect of CO2 on decomposition and nutrient cycling could occur if CO2 induces changes in the relative aboveground biomass of the prairie species. © 1994 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kemp, PR; Waldecker, DG; Owensby, CE; Reynolds, JF; Virginia, RA

Published Date

  • March 1, 1994

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 165 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 115 - 127

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-5036

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0032-079X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/BF00009968

Citation Source

  • Scopus