Decomposition rates of various quantities of buried litter in a desert

TitleDecomposition rates of various quantities of buried litter in a desert
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1983
AuthorsUrbaniak S, Whitford WG
JournalThe Southwestern Naturalist
Date Published1983
Accession NumberJRN00006
Call Number00343
Keywordsarticle, articles, decomposition, buried litter, decomposition,litter,Larrea, journal, journals, Larrea, decomposition, litter,Larrea decomposition

Creosobebush (Larrea tridentata) fine litter was treated with either the general biocide HgCl2 and CuSO4 or water (controls) and buried 5 cm beneath the soil surface in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. The treated litter showed significantly less mass loss than controls during the three month summer-autumn field study; controls lost about 20% of the original mass while treated litter lost less than 2%. In addition, the total nitrogen content of the control litter increased from an initial concentration of about 14.08 g kg-1 to 17.62 g kg-1 dry weight by the end of the study, while treated litter nitrogen content decreased to 13.30 g kg-1. Results suggest abiotic processes other than leaching have little effect on the decomposition of buried litter in this environment.