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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Loss of Phenolic Compounds from Leaf Litter of Creosotebush [larrea Tridentata (Sess. & Moc. Ex DC.) Cov] and Tarbush (Flourensia Cernua DC.)

Authors
item Hyder, Paul - LAS CRUCES TEACHER
item Frederickson, Eddie
item Estell, Richard
item Lucero, Mary
item Remmenga, M - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 11, 2004
Publication Date: April 1, 2005
Citation: Hyder, P.W., Fredrickson, E.L., Estell, R.E., Lucero, M.E., Remmenga, M.D. 2005. Loss of phenolic compounds from leaf litter of creosotebush [Larrea tridentata (Sess. & Moc. ex DC.) Cov] and tarbush (Flourensia cernua DC.). Journal of Arid Environments. 61(1):79-91.

Interpretive Summary: Litter decomposition is an important process in recycling and redistributing organic matter and nutrients. Invasive desert shrubs often contain chemicals that repel animals, but it is not clear how they affect litter decomposition. We examined loss of organic matter and phenolics from leaf litter of two shrubs that are invasive in the Chihuahuan Desert. Mesh bags containing creosotebush or tarbush leaf litter were placed below shrubs and removed at several intervals up to 90 days. Organic matter and phenolic losses from creosotebush and tarbush during the winter sampling period were very low for both surface and buried litter. Losses of organic matter from creosotebush litter during the spring were much greater (75.1 and 33.5% for buried and surface samples, respectively). Losses of organic matter and phenolics were generally greater in buried vs. surface and spring vs. winter samples, and losses typically occurred during the last 30-45 days. The results are important for understanding decomposition and recycling of carbon and nutrients and competition among plants in desert ecosystems.

Technical Abstract: We examined loss of organic matter and phenolics from leaf litter of two shrubs that are invasive in the Chihuahuan Desert. Fiberglass bags (1-mm mesh) containing creosotebush [Larrea tridentata (Sess. & Moc. ex DC.) Cov.] or tarbush (Flourensia cernua DC.) leaf litter were placed below shrubs in two positions (soil surface and 5 cm belowground) and removed at several intervals up to 90 days during winter (creosotebush and tarbush) and spring (creosotebush). Over the 90-day sampling interval, organic matter loss from creosotebush and tarbush during the winter sampling period was low for both surface and buried litter, ranging from 1.7-5.2%. Losses of organic matter from creosotebush litter during the spring were much greater (75.1 and 33.5% for buried and surface samples, respectively). Total phenolic losses after 90 days were 1.6, 4.8, 21.6, 13.5, 87.1, and 43.5% for winter buried creosotebush, winter surface creosotebush, winter buried tarbush, winter surface tarbush, spring buried creosotebush, and spring surface creosotebush litter, respectively, while losses of condensed tannins for the same samples were 45.8, 56.1, -34.0, -41.8, 91.1, and 67.4%. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid loss from creosotebush litter was 25.4, 18.3, 95.2, and 66.7% for winter buried, winter surface, spring buried, and spring surface samples, respectively, over the 90-day interval. Losses of organic matter and phenolics were generally greater in buried vs. surface and spring vs. winter samples, and losses typically occurred during the last 30-45 days.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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