Investigating drivers of litter carbon turnover in Arctic soils
Soils store massive amounts of C and are therefore important regulators of global climate. Consequently, efforts are made to understand what controls soil C storage, and recent studies show that controls differ among C pools, which has implications for our understanding of global C dynamics. These observed differences are likely due to variation in quality among C pools, but also depend on microbial community composition, which, in turn, often is related to properties of the live plant community. Thus, to obtain a better understanding of soil C turnover, it is important to consider differences in microbial communities and C quality among different C pools. In this study, we will therefore measure how changes in these factors influence C turnover in different types of plant litter, by experimentally manipulating aboveground vegetation (i.e. mountain birch forest). In this project, we will assess the relative importance of saprophytic and mycorrhizal fungi for leaf and root litter decomposition, and how their relative activities vary with carbon (C) quality, with the aim to better understand C turnover and storage in arctic soils.