Detritivore conversion of litter into faeces accelerates organic matter turnover

Joly François-Xavier, Coq Sylvain, Coulis Mathieu, David Jean-François, Hättenschwiler Stephan, Mueller Carsten W., Prater Isabel, Subke Jens-Arne. 2020. Detritivore conversion of litter into faeces accelerates organic matter turnover. Communications Biology, 3 (1):660, 9 p.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact Revue en libre accès total
Published version - Anglais
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Abstract : Litter-feeding soil animals are notoriously neglected in conceptual and mechanistic biogeochemical models. Yet, they may be a dominant factor in decomposition by converting large amounts of plant litter into faeces. Here, we assess how the chemical and physical changes occurring when litter is converted into faeces alter their fate during further decomposition with an experimental test including 36 combinations of phylogenetically distant detritivores and leaf litter of contrasting physicochemical characteristics. We show that, across litter and detritivore species, litter conversion into detritivore faeces enhanced organic matter lability and thereby accelerated carbon cycling. Notably, the positive conversion effect on faeces quality and decomposition increased with decreasing quality and decomposition of intact litter. This general pattern was consistent across detritivores as different as snails and woodlice, and reduced differences in quality and decomposition amongst litter species. Our data show that litter conversion into detritivore faeces has far-reaching consequences for the understanding and modelling of the terrestrial carbon cycle.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Litière végétale, Fèces, Bioconversion, Matière organique, Cycle du carbone, Fagus, Armadillidium, Porcellio, Diplopoda, Crustacea, Gastropoda, Isopoda

Mots-clés complémentaires : Cepaea, Glomeris, Ommatoiulus, Tachypodoiulus

Mots-clés libres : Diplopod, Isopod, Gastropod, Soil biodiversity, Functional ecology, Functional traits, Decomposition, Soil invertebrate, Soil fauna, Macroarthropod, Macrofauna

Classification Agris : P34 - Soil biology
P35 - Soil fertility

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 4 (2019-) - Santé des plantes, des animaux et des écosystèmes

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Joly François-Xavier, University of Stirling (GBR) - auteur correspondant
  • Coq Sylvain, IRD (FRA)
  • Coulis Mathieu, CIRAD-PERSYST-UPR GECO (MTQ) ORCID: 0000-0001-5895-8519
  • David Jean-François, CNRS (FRA)
  • Hättenschwiler Stephan, Université de Montpellier (FRA)
  • Mueller Carsten W., Technical University of Munich (DEU)
  • Prater Isabel, Technical University of Munich (DEU)
  • Subke Jens-Arne, University of Stirling (GBR)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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