NCEAS Project 6840

Analysis of long-term litter decomposition experiments: Synthesis at the site, regional, and global levels

  • Mark Harmon

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group30th January—4th February 2004Participant List  
Working Group22nd—26th July 2004Participant List  
Working Group17th—19th March 2006Participant List  
Working Group27th—30th June 2006Participant List  

Although numerous short-term experiments have been used to develop conceptual and simulation models of decomposition, very little is known about the later stages of this process. Exclusion of this later stage has led, at best, to incomplete understanding of ecosystem carbon and nitrogen dynamics. We propose a working group to examine the wealth of litter and decomposition data that has been produced by several recent long-term field experiments. Our analysis will initially be based on data from LIDET (Long-term Intersite Decomposition Experiment Team), a 27-site experiment conducted over a 10-year period. We will then incorporate results of other networks in Canada and Europe as well as other long-term results into this synthesis. Data will be used to reexamine fundamental paradigms that have guided ecosystem analysis for over a decade. We will also test the ability of simulation models developed from short-term experiments to predict long-term trends. Results from our working group will then be used to produce global maps of litter decomposition-related variables including litter production, substrate quality, carbon and nitrogen stores, and decomposition rates.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Adair, Elizabeth C.; Parton, William J.; Del Grosso, Stephen; Silver, Whendee L.; Harmon, Mark; Hall, Sonia A.; Burke, Ingrid C.; Hart, Stephen C. 2008. Simple three-pool model accurately describes patterns of long-term litter decomposition in diverse climates. Global Change Biology. Vol: 14. Pages 2636-2660.
Journal Article Bontti, Eliana E.; Decant, Joseph P.; Munson, Seth M.; Gathany, Mark A.; Przeszlowska, Agnieszka; Haddix, Michelle L.; Owens, Stephanie; Burke, Ingrid C.; Parton, William J.; Harmon, Mark. 2009. Litter decomposition in grasslands of Central North America (US Great Plains). Global Change Biology. Vol: 15. Pages 1356-1363.
Journal Article Currie, William S.; Harmon, Mark; Burke, Ingrid C.; Hart, Stephen C.; Parton, William J. 2010. Cross-biome transplants of plant litter show decomposition models extend to a broader climatic range but lose predictability at the decadal time scale. Global Change Biology. Vol: 16. Pages 1744-1761.
Journal Article Cusack, Daniela F.; Chou, Wendy W.; Yang, Wendy H.; Harmon, Mark; Silver, Whendee L.; Lidet. 2009. Controls on long-term root and leaf litter decomposition in neotropical forests. Global Change Biology. Vol: 15(5). Pages 1339-1355.
Data Set Harmon, Mark. 2006. Mass loss datafile and nitrogen concentration data. (Abstract) (Online version)
Data Set Harmon, Mark. 2007. Analysis of long-term litter decomposition experiments. (Abstract) (Online version)
Journal Article Harmon, Mark; Silver, Whendee L.; Fasth, Becky; Chen, Hua; Burke, Ingrid C.; Parton, William J.; Hart, Stephen C.; Currie, William S. 2009. Long-term patterns of mass loss during the decomposition of leaf and fine root litter: An intersite comparison. Global Change Biology. Vol: 15. Pages 1320-1338.
Journal Article Parton, William J.; Silver, Whendee L.; Burke, Ingrid C.; Grassens, Leo; Harmon, Mark; Currie, William S.; King, Jennifer; Adair, Elizabeth C.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Hart, Stephen C.; Fasth, Becky. 2007. Global-scale similarities in nitrogen release patterns during long-term decomposition. Science. Vol: 315. Pages 361-364.
Journal Article Tuomi, Mikko; Thum, Tea; Jarvinen, Heikki; Fronzek, Stefan; Berg, Bjorn; Harmon, Mark; Trofymow, J.A.; Sevanto, Sanna; Liski, Jari. 2009. Leaf litter decomposition-Estimates of global variability based on Yasso07 model. Ecological Modelling. Vol: 220(23). Pages 3362-3371.