Riparian plant litter quality increases with latitude

Boyero, Luz, Graça, Manuel A.S., Tonin, Alan M., Pérez, Javier, Swafford, Andrew J., Ferreira, Verónica, Landeira-Dabarca, Andrea, Alexandrou, Markos A., Gessner, Mark O., McKie, Brendan G., Albariño, Ricardo J., Barmuta, Leon A., Callisto, Marcos, Chará, Julián, Chauvet, Eric, Colón-Gaus, Checo, Dudgeon, David, Encalada, Andrea C., Figueroa, Ricardo, Flecker, Alexander S., Fleituch, Tadeusz, Frainer, André, Goncalves, José F., Helson, Julie E., Iwata, Tomoya, Mathooko, Jude, M'Erimba, Charles, Pringle, Catherine M., Ramírez, Alonso, Swan, Christopher M., Yule, Catherine M., and Pearson, Richard G. (2017) Riparian plant litter quality increases with latitude. Scientific Reports, 7. 10562.

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Abstract

Plant litter represents a major basal resource in streams, where its decomposition is partly regulated by litter traits. Litter-trait variation may determine the latitudinal gradient in decomposition in streams, which is mainly microbial in the tropics and detritivore-mediated at high latitudes. However, this hypothesis remains untested, as we lack information on large-scale trait variation for riparian litter. Variation cannot easily be inferred from existing leaf-trait databases, since nutrient resorption can cause traits of litter and green leaves to diverge. Here we present the first global-scale assessment of riparian litter quality by determining latitudinal variation (spanning 107°) in litter traits (nutrient concentrations; physical and chemical defences) of 151 species from 24 regions and their relationships with environmental factors and phylogeny. We hypothesized that litter quality would increase with latitude (despite variation within regions) and traits would be correlated to produce 'syndromes' resulting from phylogeny and environmental variation. We found lower litter quality and higher nitrogen:phosphorus ratios in the tropics. Traits were linked but showed no phylogenetic signal, suggesting that syndromes were environmentally determined. Poorer litter quality and greater phosphorus limitation towards the equator may restrict detritivore-mediated decomposition, contributing to the predominance of microbial decomposers in tropical streams.

Item ID: 54178
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Funders: Donana Biological Station, Spain, Ikerbasque, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany, Basque Government (BG)
Projects and Grants: FCT strategic project ID/MAR/04292/2013, MINECO BIOFUNCTION project CGL2014-52779-P, BG funds IT302-10
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2018 04:58
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 100%
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