Alpine Botany

, Volume 129, Issue 1, pp 53–62 | Cite as

Soil fauna effect on Dryas octopetala litter decomposition in an Alpine tundra of the Changbai Mountains, China

  • Chen Ma
  • Xiuqin YinEmail author
  • Haixia Wang
Original Article


Soil fauna are critical for litter decomposition via physical fragmentation, chemical digestion, and changing activity of microorganisms, yet a few studies have been performed regarding the effects of soil fauna on alpine tundra litter decomposition. To better understand the effects of soil fauna on alpine tundra litter decomposition, we set up a litterbag experiment to determine the characteristics of the Dryas octopetala decomposition, and the diversity of the soil fauna in the litterbags, as well as the influence of the soil fauna on the decomposition in the tundra of the Changbai Mountains over a 36-month period. We found that the decomposition rate of the coarse mesh (2 mm) litterbags was faster than that of the fine mesh (0.01 mm) litterbags. The percentage of the mass lass of litter in the coarse mesh litterbags (2 mm) was 47.60%, while that in the fine mesh (0.01 mm) litterbags was 34.11% at the end of the experimental period (36th month of decomposition), and the contribution of soil fauna to the litter decomposition was confirmed to be 30.50%. The characteristics of litter decomposition exhibited some seasonal and annual differences. In addition, the diversity of the soil fauna in the litterbags was different during each of the years of the experiment. However, there were no significant differences observed during the same year. The effect of soil fauna on the litter decomposition was not obvious at the beginning of the experiment, and soil fauna contribution had a significant negative relationship with mass loss of litter. Our results provide experimental evidence that soil fauna can promote the decomposition of Dryas octopetala litter, but soil fauna contribution decreased with litter decomposition in the alpine tundra ecosystem.


Alpine tundra Dryas octopetala Soil fauna Litter decomposition Changbai Mountains 



The authors would like to thank all those who assisted during the field work process. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41171207) and China Scholarship Council (201706620065).

Author contributions

CM, XY, and HW designed the present study. CM analyzed the data. CM wrote the original manuscript, and all authors contributed substantially to the manuscript improvement and validation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest in relation to this article.

Supplementary material

35_2018_215_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (2.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (JPG 2309 KB)
35_2018_215_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (2.1 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (JPG 2177 KB)


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Copyright information

© Swiss Botanical Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geographical SciencesNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.Jilin Provincial Key Laboratory of Animal Resource Conservation and UtilizationChangchunChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Vegetation EcologyMinistry of Education, Northeast Normal UniversityChangchunChina

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