Temperature oscillation coupled with fungal community shifts can modulate warming effects on litter decomposition

Abstract : Diel temperature oscillations are a nearly ubiquitous phenomenon, with amplitudes predicted to change along with mean temperatures under global-warming scenarios. Impact assessments of global warming have largely disregarded diel temperature oscillations, even though key processes in ecosystems, such as decomposition, may be affected. We tested the effect of a 5 degrees C temperature increase with and without diel oscillations on litter decomposition by fungal communities in stream microcosms. Five temperature regimes with identical thermal sums (degree days) were applied: constant 3 degrees and 8 degrees C; diel temperature oscillations of 5 degrees C around each mean; and oscillations of 9 degrees C around 8 degrees C. Temperature oscillations around 8 degrees C (warming scenario), but not 3 degrees C (ambient scenario), accelerated decomposition by 18% (5 degrees C oscillations) and 31% (9 degrees C oscillations), respectively, compared to the constant temperature regime at 8 degrees C. Community structure was not affected by oscillating temperatures, although the rise in mean temperature from 3 degrees to 8 degrees C consistently shifted the relative abundance of species. A simple model using temperature-growth responses of the dominant fungal decomposers accurately described the experimentally observed pattern, indicating that the effect of temperature oscillations on decomposition in our warming scenario was caused by strong curvilinear responses of species to warming at low temperature, particularly of the species becoming most abundant at 8 degrees C (Tetracladium marchalianum). These findings underscore the need to consider species-specific temperature characteristics in concert with changes in communities when assessing consequences of global warming on ecosystem processes.
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Christian K Dang, Markus Schindler, Eric Chauvet, Mark O Gessner. Temperature oscillation coupled with fungal community shifts can modulate warming effects on litter decomposition. Ecology, Ecological Society of America, 2009, vol. 90, pp. 122-31. ⟨10.1890/07-1974.1⟩. ⟨hal-00965468⟩

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