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Patterns and mechanisms responsible for the relationship between the diversity of litter macro-invertebrates and leaf degradation

Abstract : Laboratory microcosms were used to determine how leaf degradation processes (C–CO2 release and leaf mass loss) are affected by the diversity of soil macro-invertebrate assemblages (comprising earthworms, woodlice and millipedes). The relationships were tested using different measures of diversity (number of species and trait dissimilarities). Net diversity effects and transgressive overyielding were calculated to disentangle the relative impacts of negative, neutral and positive species interactions on the relationships observed. Minimum trait dissimilarities were found to be correlated with leaf mass loss and, to a lesser extent, with C–CO2 release. This suggests that process rates increase as trait similarity in species assemblage decreases. Conversely, increasing the number of species resulted in the saturation of process rates after 1–2 species had been added to a microcosm. The process rates observed could mainly be explained by positive species interactions (40–50% of microcosms being process-dependent), followed by neutral interactions (20–40%) and selection effects or negative interactions (less than 20%). These results thus suggest that the effects of a soil macro-invertebrate assemblage on soil processes are more likely to be driven by complementarity or facilitation than by competition.
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Mickael Hedde, Fabrice Bureau, Matthieu Chauvat, Thibaud Decaëns. Patterns and mechanisms responsible for the relationship between the diversity of litter macro-invertebrates and leaf degradation. Basic and Applied Ecology, Elsevier, 2010, 11 (1), pp.35-44. ⟨10.1016/j.baae.2009.10.009⟩. ⟨hal-02658339⟩

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