Decomposition of aboveground and belowground organs of wild rice (Zizania latifolia): mass loss and nutrient changes
Decomposition of aboveground and belowground organs of the emergent macrophyte Z.latifolia was investigated using a litterbag technique for a period of 359 days in a freshwater marsh in Japan. Aboveground parts were classified into: leaves, sheaths and stems. Belowground parts were classified into: horizontal rhizomes (new rhizome, hard rhizome, soft rhizome) and vertical rhizome (stembase). The decay rate (k) was 0.0036 day−1, 0.0033 day−1 and 0.0021 day−1 for leaves, sheaths and stems, respectively. For belowground parts, the decay rate varied considerably from 0.0018 day−1 to 0.0079 day−1, according to differences in the initial chemical compositions of rhizomes. After 359 days of decay, new rhizomes lost 94% of their original dry mass, compared with a loss of 48–84% for the other rhizomes. There was a significant positive relationship between litter quality and decay rate for horizontal rhizomes. For the new rhizomes, which had an internal nitrogen content of 24.2 mg N g−1 dry mass, the mass loss was 40% higher than that of soft rhizomes, which had an internal N content of 9.8 mg N g−1 dry mass. Over the period of 359 days, the nitrogen concentration in all rhizome types decreased to levels lower than initial values, but the phosphorus concentration remained constant after an initial leaching loss. Most nitrogen and phosphorus were lost during the first 45 days of decay. Changes in carbon to nitrogen (C:N) and carbon to phosphorus (C:P) ratios basically followed inversed trends of the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations.