Kahl, T; Arnstadt, T; Baber, K; Bässler, C; Bauhus, J; Borken, W; Buscot, F; Floren, A; Heibl, C; Hessenmöller, D; Hofrichter, M; Hoppe, B; Kellner, H; Krüger, D; Linsenmair, KE; Matzner, E; Otto, P; Purahong, W; Seilwinder, C; Schulze, ED; Wende, B; Weisser, WW; Gossner, MM: Wood decay rates of 13 temperate tree species in relation to wood properties, enzyme activities and organismic diversities, Forest Ecology & Management, 391, 86-95 (2017), doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2017.02.012
Deadwood decay is an important ecosystem process in forest ecosystems, but the relative contribution of specific wood properties of tree species, activities of wood-degrading enzymes, and decomposer communities such as fungi and insects is unclear. We ask whether wood properties, in particular differences between angiosperms and gymnosperms, and organismic diversity of colonizers contribute to wood decomposition. To test this, we exposed deadwood logs of 13 tree species, covering four gymnosperms and nine angiosperm species, in 30 plots under different forest management in three regions in Germany. After a decomposition time of 6.5 years Carpinus betulus and Fagus sylvatica showed the highest decay rates. We found a positive correlation of decay rate with enzyme activities, chemical wood properties (S, K concentration) and organismic diversity, while, heartwood character, lignin content, extractive concentration and phenol content were negatively correlated with decay rate across all 13 tree species. By applying a multi-model inference approach we found that the activity of the wooddegrading enzymes laccase and endocellulase, beetle diversity, heartwood presence, wood ray height and fungal diversity were the most important predictor variables for wood decay. Although we were not able to identify direct cause and effect relations by our approach, we conclude that enzyme activity and organismic diversity are the main drivers of wood decay rate, which greatly differed among tree species. Maintaining high tree species diversity will therefore result in high structural deadwood diversity in terms of decay rate and decay stage.
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