Pinus halepensis litter decomposition in laboratory microcosms as influenced by temperature and a millipede, Glomeris marginata

Coûteaux MM, Aloui A, Kurz-Besson C
Applied Soil Ecology 20 (2002) 85–96,

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Pinus halepensis litter was incubated at 4, 8, 15, 23 and 30 °C in microcosms in climatic chambers for 198 days under constant moisture conditions. Millipedes (Glomeris marginata) were added to half of the microcosms. The respiration rates, the mass loss and the chemical composition (nitrogen, non-structural compounds, hemicelluloses, cellulose, lignin, N linked to lignin) were measured at the end of the incubation. Q10values decreased with increasing incubation temperature. G. marginata increased litter decomposition at 15 and 23 °C by enhancing the decomposition limit rather than the decomposition rates. Between 4 and 23 °C, the disappearance of non-structural compounds and cellulose was similar and independent of the temperature. Over this temperature range, the degradation of hemicelluloses, and to a lesser extent of lignin, was stimulated by a rise in temperature. The material produced at 30 °C was more recalcitrant and its decomposition limit was lower, indicating higher stabilisation of organic matter. The faeces of G. marginata contained less cellulose and more non-structural compounds than the remaining structured needles.