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Decomposition of grass leaf litter was studied on a shortgrass prairie using chemicals (HgCl2 and CuSO4) to prevent microbial activity (abiotic treatment), 53??m nylon mesh to exclude mesofauna (microbial treatment), and l?mm nylon mesh to allow the access of mesofauna. After 9 months, 15.2% of the blue grama grass litter was decomposed in the microbial treatment, and 29.4% was decomposed in the microbial plus mesofaunal treatment. After 7 months, 6.2% of the litter had disappeared from the abiotic treatment. There was a general decrease in C:N ratios with the microbial treatment lowest at the end of the experiment. Total available carbohydrates generally decreased with time. Certain mite families fluctuated with...
The abundance and functional structure of soil micro- (nematodes) and mesofauna (collembolans and mites) in relation to species diversity and initial C:N ratio of plant litter were studied in a field mesocosm experiment. A total of five litter treatments were applied to generate an increasing diversity of plant species (one, three and 12 species) and/or differences in initial C:N ratio of the litter (low, intermediate and high ratio). Samples were taken 3, 6 and 24 months after the litter exposure. On each sampling date litter and underlying sand samples were taken. Our results showed that litter quality, but not litter diversity was the factor which affected the three animal groups under study. The effect of litter...