Leaf litter decomposition from native and non-native species in a freshwater forested wetland of Chile

Decomposition of leaf litter is a fundamental process for the functioning of forested wetlands. The rapid increment of forest plantations has involved a greater contribution of leaf litter of exotic origin to these ecosystems. The decomposition rate between leaf litter of native and exotic origin in a forested wetland of the Mediterranean zone of Chile was compared, as well as the contribution of bacteria and macroinvertebrate to this process. It was determined that the decomposition rate of the leaf litter presented significant differences (p < 0.05) between species, being faster in those of non-native origin. This could be due to differences in ecophysiological aspects of the leaves like the presence of chemical compounds such as waxes or oils. Both analyzed communities were relevant in the studied process. However, bacteria contributed mostly to the decomposition of both types of leaves. The implications of the physical and chemical characteristics of the leaves and the water on the processing of the foliar material are discussed.

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