Canadian Forest Service Publications

Litter decomposition affected by climate and litter quality—Testing the Yasso model with litterbag data from the Canadian intersite decomposition experiment. 2005. Palosuo, T.; Liski, J.; Trofymow, J.A.; Titus, B.D. Ecological Modelling 189: 183-198.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26035

Language: English

Availability: Not available through the CFS (click for more information).

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2005.03.006

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Litterbag experiments provide valuable data for testing the accuracy of predictions of decomposition from soil carbon models. The soil carbon model Yasso describes litter decomposition based on basic climate and litter quality information, and was calibrated using European litterbag data. In this study, we tested the predictive capabilities of Yasso using independent litterbag data for 10 foliage litter types decomposed for 6 years at 18 upland forest sites across Canada (CIDET).

The model underestimated mass of leaf litters remaining on CIDET sites, with only a small systematic error in predicting the effects of climate when effective temperature sum was used as the temperature variable in the model. The overall rate of decomposition was predicted correctly when mean annual temperature was used as the temperature variable, but then the model substantially overestimated climatic effects.

The model correctly predicted differences in decomposition rates among litter types in the early years of decomposition, but underestimated them in later years. The decomposition rate of the litter type richest in phenolic compounds (larch needles) was systematically overestimated, and that of the litter type richest in O-alkyl compounds (grass leaves) was systematically underestimated. Accounting for these factors would improve the general applicability of the model. However, accounting for the initial nitrogen concentration of litter did not improve the accuracy of the model unless the initial lignin (i.e., acid unhydrolyzable residue) content was also taken into account.

We conclude that the model Yasso accounts for most of the effects of climate and initial litter quality on the decomposition of a range of foliage litter types under varying climate conditions. Recalibration of the reference decomposition rates used in the model may improve the accuracy when applying the model outside of Europe.