Elevated carbon dioxide and litter decomposition in California annual grasslands: Which mechanisms matter?

Jeffrey S. Dukes, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


To date, most research that has examined the effect of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) on litter decomposition has focused on changes in the leaf litter quality of individual species. Results from California grasslands indicate that other CO2 responses may have greater consequences for decomposition rates. For instance, CO2-driven changes in either species dominance or patterns of biomass allocation would alter both the quality and the position of grassland litter. We review the results from studies in California grasslands to identify the mechanisms that affect grassland litter decomposition. We use a simple calculation that integrates the results of two studies to identify three mechanisms that have the potential to substantially alter decomposition rates as the atmospheric [CO2] rises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2002



  • Allocation
  • Elevated CO
  • Litter decomposition
  • Litter position
  • Litter quality
  • Plant litter
  • Serpentine grassland
  • Soil microbiota
  • Soil moisture
  • Species composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

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