Leaf decomposition in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems is a critical ecosystem level process. These processes have been studied extensively as separate ecosystems for many different species of plants. Decomposition of invasive plant’s leaves have also been studied in many different conditions, ecosystems and climates.
We propose to evaluate leaf decomposition rates in paired terrestrial and aquatic systems and compare native and invasive plant species decomposition rates in different climatic conditions reflecting not only climate change and geographical location.
The goals of this study are to:
- Develop and test integrative protocols that will unite aquatic and terrestrial decomposition
- Identify the threshold of invasive plant abundance necessary to affect ecosystem processes (as defined by mass loss/decomposition, and changes in C, N, P, and Ca dynamics)
Ecosystem processes will be affected by climate change and though this research project we will address this effect by measuring decomposition rates at a wide variety of geographical locations with different climatic conditions. We will use standard methods used in measuring decomposition rates in all research sites and evaluate both terrestrial and aquatic decomposition rates. In addition to the two types of ecosystems we will also compare the decomposition rates of native and invasive plant species in the variety of geographical locations.