Table of Contents
Advances in Ecology
Volume 2014, Article ID 519297, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/519297
Research Article

Saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima) Invasion Alters Decomposer Fauna and Plant Litter Decomposition in a Temperate Xerophytic Deciduous Forest

1Departamento de Geología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físico-Químicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Ruta 36, Km. 601, X5804 BYA Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Argentina
2Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), C1033AAJ Buenos Aires, Argentina
3Departamento de Ciencias Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físico-Químicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Ruta 36, Km. 601, X5804 BYA Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Argentina

Received 23 June 2014; Accepted 8 August 2014; Published 21 August 2014

Academic Editor: Alistair Bishop

Copyright © 2014 José Camilo Bedano et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Plant invasions may alter the soil system by changing litter quality and quantity, thereby affecting soil community and ecosystem processes. We investigated the effect of Tamarix ramosissima invasion on the decomposer fauna and litter decomposition process, as well as the importance of litter quality in decomposition. Litter decomposition and decomposer communities were evaluated in two monospecific saltcedar forests and two native forests in Argentina, in litterbags containing either local litter (saltcedar or dominant native species) or a control litter. Saltcedar invasion produced an increase in Collembola, Acari, and total mesofauna abundance, regardless of the litter type. Control litter decomposition was higher in the native forest than in the saltcedar forest, showing that increased abundance of decomposer fauna does not necessarily accelerate decomposition processes. Local litter decomposition was not different between forests, suggesting that decomposer fauna of both ecosystems is adapted to efficiently decompose the autochthonous litter. Our results suggest that the introduction of a resource with higher quality than the local one has a negative effect on decomposition in both ecosystems, which is more pronounced in the invaded forest than in the native forest. This finding stresses the low plasticity of saltcedar decomposer community to adapt to short-term environmental changes.