LIDET: The Long-Term Intersite Decomposition Team

Network News Fall 1991, Vol. 10 No. 1
Network News

Although the formation of soil organic matter has long been a central theme of decomposition research, the short-term nature of most studies has limited knowledge of this process. A recent LTER workshop, organized by Jerry Melillo (Harvard Forest) and Knute Nadelhoffer (Arctic Tundra), examined possible long-term, intersite experiments that might advance our understanding.

One of these experiments, a 10-year test of climatic and substrate quality control of fine-litter decomposition, was begun last year at 21 sites, 17 of which are LTER sites. Although these sites represent most of the major biomes in North America, seven additional sites are being added to represent missing conditions. A wide range of litter types was used, with 10 standard types (i.e., 6 leaf, 3 fine root, and wooden dowels) sent to each site, and 21 “wildcard” species of leaf litter that appear randomly throughout the experiment.

Given the large number of individuals involved, it was crucial to explicitly define their roles and expectations. A group was identified to complete and publish the results from these experiments. The Long-Term Intersite Decomposition Experiment Team, or LIDET, is divided into:

  1. Field Collaborators who oversee the study at their respective site
  2. Modelers who will predict C, N, and P dynamics and validate models from the field study
  3. A Central Analysis Group which performs chemical analysis, data management, and preliminary data analysis

Although field results are just beginning to become available, this effort has shown that a large number of sites can function together in a coordinated fashion. All participating sites have contributed to the successful initiation of this project by collecting litter, placing materials in the field, and providing information about the site.

A table of the individual LIDET investigators their site affiliations and research tasks, is available from the LTER Network Office. For further information on the experiment, contact Mark Harmon, Oregon State University, Forest Science, Peavy 154, 3200 Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331-5705, 503-750-7333.