, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 29–39 | Cite as

Litter decomposition rate is dependent on litter Mn concentrations

  • B. Berg
  • K. T. Steffen
  • C. McClaugherty
Original Paper


A statistically significant linear relationship was found between annual mass loss of foliar litter in the late stages of decomposition and Mn concentration in the litter. We used existing decomposition data on needle and leaf decomposition of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta), Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), silver birch (Betula pendula L.), and grey alder (Alnus incana L.) from Sweden and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.) from Libya, to represent boreal, temperate, and Mediterranean climates. The later the decomposition stage as indicated by higher sulfuric-acid lignin concentrations, the better were the linear relationships between litter mass loss and Mn concentrations. We conclude that Mn concentrations in litter have an influence on litter mass-loss rates in very late decomposition stages (up to 5 years), provided that the litter has high enough Mn concentration. The relationship may be dependent on species as the relationship is stronger with species that take up high enough amounts of Mn.


Decomposition Lignin Manganese Plant litter 



This work was carried out while Björn Berg was a guest scientist at the Institute Forest, Landscape and Planning, KVL, Copenhagen, Denmark. We are most grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their very constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Danish Center for ForestLandscape and Planning, KVLHørsholmDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Forest EcologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Applied Chemistry and MicrobiologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Department of BiologyMount Union CollegeAllianceUSA

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