Loss of species and functional group caused by human disturbance has been widely concerned (Hooper et al., 2005; Wardle & Zackrisson, 2005), and all of the previous studies have agreed that understory shrubs and herbs, as well as litter played an important role in regulating forest ecosystem structure and function. It has well been documented that loss of understory plant species and litter will affect the nutrient cycling, soil erosion, and biodiversity in the forest ecosystems. However, it is unclear that whether litter removal amplify the impact of understory vegetation removal on ecosystem structure and function in the forest.
The experiment was conducted to 1) quantify the effect of understory vegetation and litter removal on ecosystem carbon, nitrogen and water cycling, and 2) test the interactive effect between understory vegetation and litter on forest ecosystem structure and function.
The experiment was performed in 2015 at a south-facing hillslope (approximately 20 % in slope) in Xianshan mountain (32° 06′ 52″ N, 114° 01′ 50″ E, 204 m a.s.l.) of Xinyang City, China. Sixteen 4 × 4 m2 plots are arranged into 4 row and 4 columns in the study site. The distance between each two plots is at least 2 m. One plot in each row is assigned to one of the four treatments: 1) Control, 2) Understory vegetation removal, 3) Litter removal, 4) Understory vegetation and litter removal.
Yuan Miao, Yinzhan Liu, Yanchun Liu, Renhui Miao, Mengjun Hu, Yumin Liu, Shiqiang Wan