Solar ultraviolet radiation alters alder and birch litter chemistry that in turn affects decomposers and soil respiration

Abstract

Solar ultraviolet (UV)-A and UV-B radiation were excluded from branches of grey alder (Alnus incana) and white birch (Betula pubescens) trees in a field experiment. Leaf litter collected from these trees was used in microcosm experiments under laboratory conditions. The aim was to evaluate the effects of the different UV treatments on litter chemical quality (phenolic compounds, C, N and lignin) and the subsequent effects of these changes on soil fauna and decomposition processes. We measured the decomposition rate of litter, growth of woodlice (Porcellio scaber), soil microbial respiration and abundance of nematodes and enchytraeid worms. In addition, the chemical quality of woodlice feces was analyzed. The exclusion of both UV-A and UV-B had several effects on litter chemistry. Exclusion of UV-B radiation decreased the C content in litter in both tree species. In alder litter, UV exclusion affected concentration of phenolic groups variably, whereas in birch litter there were no significant differences in phenolic compounds. Moreover, further effects on microbial respiration and chemical quality of woodlice feces were apparent. In both tree species, microbial CO2 evolution was lower in soil with litter produced under exclusion of both UV-A and UV-B radiation when compared to soil with control litter. The N content was higher in the feces of woodlice eating alder litter produced under exclusion of both UV-A and UV-B compared to the control. In addition, there were small changes in the concentration of individual phenolic compounds analyzed from woodlice feces. Our results demonstrate that both UV-A and UV-B alter litter chemistry which in turn affects decomposition processes.

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-009-1413-y

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Cite this paper

@article{Kotilainen2009SolarUR, title={Solar ultraviolet radiation alters alder and birch litter chemistry that in turn affects decomposers and soil respiration}, author={Titta Kotilainen and Jari Haimi and Riitta Tegelberg and Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto and Elina Vapaavuori and Pedro Jos{\'e} Aphalo}, journal={Oecologia}, year={2009}, volume={161}, pages={719-728} }