UV-B radiation and shrub canopy effects on surface litter decomposition in a shrub-invaded dry grassland

Katharine I. Predick, Steve Archer, Stepfanie M. Aguillon, Dean A. Keller, Heather L. Throop, Paul W. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background & Aims: We assessed the joint role of shrub cover and UV-B on decomposition in a Sonoran Desert grassland. UV is considered an important driver of biogeochemistry in arid grasslands and shrub proliferation in these landscapes can alter both abiotic and biotic drivers of biogeochemistry. Methods: We manipulated ambient solar UV-B exposure of Prosopis velutina leaf litter under and away from shrub canopies and assessed decomposition responses over 320 days. Results: Leaf litter mass declined 40% during the first 50 days, but only an additional 10% during the remaining 270 days. Decomposition was slower under shrubs, where ground temperatures and total solar radiation were lower than locations away from shrubs. However, the presence/absence of UV-B radiation had no detectable influence on mass loss either under or away from shrubs. UV-B exposure decreased N immobilization suggesting UV-B photodegradation is facilitating microbial access to litter N. Conclusions: Higher decomposition of litter away from shrubs may reflect a combination of greater rates of thermal degradation and photodegradation. While UV-B did not directly influence decomposition rates, exposure may alter litter nutrient dynamics. Our study suggests landscape-scale decomposition could decline with increases in woody plant canopy cover owing to shrub-driven changes in microclimate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

litter
shrub
shrubs
grasslands
grassland
canopy
decomposition
degradation
biogeochemistry
photolysis
photodegradation
leaf litter
plant litter
Prosopis velutina
Sonoran Desert
thermal degradation
effect
radiation
nutrient dynamics
woody plant

Keywords

  • Desert grassland
  • Mesquite
  • Photo degradation
  • Prosopis
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Woody plant encroachment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

UV-B radiation and shrub canopy effects on surface litter decomposition in a shrub-invaded dry grassland. / Predick, Katharine I.; Archer, Steve; Aguillon, Stepfanie M.; Keller, Dean A.; Throop, Heather L.; Barnes, Paul W.

In: Journal of Arid Environments, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Predick, Katharine I. ; Archer, Steve ; Aguillon, Stepfanie M. ; Keller, Dean A. ; Throop, Heather L. ; Barnes, Paul W. / UV-B radiation and shrub canopy effects on surface litter decomposition in a shrub-invaded dry grassland. In: Journal of Arid Environments. 2018.
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