Wednesday, August 10, 2016: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Grand Floridian Blrm C, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Becky A. Ball, Arizona State University at the West Campus
Lynn M. Christenson, Vassar College; and
Kyle G. Wickings, Cornell University
Lynn M. Christenson, Vassar College
Decomposition of plant litter is a fundamental ecological process, integral to energy flow in foodwebs, nutrient cycling and soil formation. While a multitude of studies have yielded rich amounts of data describing the role of litter chemistry, climate, and decomposer biota on litter decay, much about this process is not clearly understood. For example, while the role of initial litter chemistry, such as C:N, has been well-described, it is unclear how this chemistry changes throughout the process, influencing the later stages of decay. Related to these later stages of decay is how litter interacts with soil biological communities and contributes to soil organic matter. It is imperative to understand how soil C accumulates and is stabilized for predictions of future global C budgets. To address these missing pieces we will convene scientists actively engaged in litter dynamics research and who are interested in discussing (and challenging) existing paradigms about litter decomposition. We will frame our discussions around the ways in which decomposition will be influenced by changes in the environment. The changes we will focus on include plant species community shifts related to climate change, atmospheric deposition (especially N) and pollution, and human impacts on decomposer communities. Our objective is to provide a forum for discussing hypotheses about these unknowns and future directions of research. Each symposium speaker will present ideas based on their research findings from a variety of ecosystems experiencing different forms of global change. We will synthesize these to draw attention to the forefront of future decomposition studies.