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Litter decomposition in forest ecosystems: assessing the functional role of climate, litter quality and soil organisms


At global scales, the carbon returned to the atmosphere through litter decomposition is a key component of the total annual carbon flux. Therefore, the study of factors controlling decomposition (climate, litter quality and soil organisms) has important implications for present and future global carbon budgets. This proposal aims to explore the relationship between biodiversity and decomposition along climatic gradients in forest ecosystems. Contrary to most previous investigations, it focuses on the effects of functional diversity at three trophic levels (producers, decomposers and detritivores), rather than on taxonomic diversity, in order to bridge aboveground and belowground diversity with decomposition. The proposed research consists of three general objectives to be evaluated at different spatial scales: i) to dissect the interactive effects of plant litter and decomposer diversity on decomposition across major European forest biomes, ii) to assess the relative roles played by climate, litter quality and soil organisms on decomposition in a Euro-Mediterranean region, and iii) to assess the interactions between litter quality and both soil fauna and microorganisms functional diversity upon short-term decomposition. The complementary nature of the different approaches (i) continental database, ii) litter transplant in the field, and iii) growth chamber experiments), and the use of state-of-the-art analytical tools (e.g. molecular techniques, functional diversity indexes and modelling) assure the interdisciplinarity of this proposal. The applicant will be trained on the use of molecular techniques and on the determination of several groups of soil fauna. Additionally to technical formation, the applicant will acquire planning and coordination network skills, very useful to work with international and multidisciplinary teams. All together assure the life-long training and career development of the applicant as a highly promising and independent European researcher

Call for proposal

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Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris

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Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Jocelyn Mere (Mr.)
EU contribution
€ 201 932,40