Pond-bottom decomposition of leaf litters canopied by free-floating vegetation
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In wetland ecosystems, vegetation can float freely on water surface, forming dense canopy which may play important ecological roles. This is especially true in many urban wetlands in which fluidity is low and nutrient level is high. So far, effects of free-floating vegetation on abiotic and biotic factors of wetlands have been known, while little on wetland ecosystem functions such as litter decomposition. To examine whether the canopy of free-floating vegetation on water surface will influence litter decomposition in wetlands or not, we conducted a 50-day in situ decomposition experiment in a subtropical urban pond wetland, in which litter bags of nine combinations of three mesh sizes and three litter species were put on the bottoms of total 22 ponds which were half with and half without free-floating vegetation canopy on the water surface. The ponds with and without the canopy had different water physicochemical properties. Overall, the canopy, the species identity, and the mesh size significantly decelerated mass loss and carbon loss of leaf litters while slightly on nitrogen loss. Effects of the canopy on leaf litter decomposition also showed species- and mesh size-dependent. Our results suggest that free-floating vegetation on water surface can alter water environmental factors and consequently change ecosystem functioning in wetlands.
KeywordsCinnamomum camphora Diospyros kaki Free-floating vegetation Leaf litter decomposition Leaf trait Mass loss Phyllostachys propinqua Urban wetlands
We thank Wen-Hong Dai, Wei Xiong, Can Jiang, Hong-Ke Xu, Ling-Yun Chen, Tao Xiao, Shuang-Li Tang, Wei-Jun Zhang, Jun-Peng Duan, and Xiao-Lu Shen-Tu for their assistance with the experiment. We also thank the anonymous referees, Yu-Kun Hu and Guo-Fang Liu, for helpful comments on an early version of this manuscript.
MD and YBS designed the experiment, YLZ, HBL, and LX performed the experiment. YLZ, XP, and YBS analyzed the data. All authors jointly wrote and edited the manuscript.
This work was financially supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (grant: 2017YFC0506200) and NSFC (grants: 31400346, 31670429, 41401556) and the Innovative R&D grant (201203) from Hangzhou Normal University.
Compliance with ethical standards
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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