Small-scale variability in the contribution of invertebrates to litter decomposition in tropical rice fields uri icon

abstract

  • Sustainable management of agricultural systems includes promoting nutrient cycles, which can reduce the need for application of fertilizer, As rice is one of the most important food resources in the world, sustainable management of rice paddies is increasingly in demand, However, little is known about the influence of invertebrates on decomposition processes in these ecosystems. We hypothesized that invertebrates contribute significantly to the decomposition of rice straw in paddies and that their relative contribution is affected by the distance to other landscape structures within fields. We placed rice straw in litterbags of two different mesh sizes which prevent (20 mu m x 20 mu m) or allow (5 mm x 5 mm) access of invertebrates in six irrigated rice fields for 84 days. In each field, bags were set on three transects running from the bund to the center of the field. Invertebrates significantly increased total rice straw litter mass loss by up to 45% (total decomposition: fine-meshed bags 64%; coarse-meshed bags 83%), Litter mass loss in bags accessed by invertebrates decreased with increasing distance from the bund. Such a spatial trend in litter mass loss was not observed in bags accessed only by microbes. Our results indicated that invertebrates can contribute to soil fertility in irrigated rice lields by decomposing rice straw, and that the efficiency of decomposition may be promoted by landscape structures around rice fields.

publication date

  • 2015
  • 2015
  • 2015