Decomposition studies were carried out at sites throughout Sweden, including the four Integrated Monitoring sites. Scots pine needle litterbag weight loss measurements over 3 or 5 years were determined at 26 sites and repeated up to 27 times, depending on the site. Humus layer respiration rates were determined for 20 sites in 1987–1989 and repeated in 2007–2008. Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression was used to elucidate the relative importance of climatic and soil factors. Annual needle weight losses decreased only slowly (20–10%) over 3–5 years for all northern (>60°N) sites but decreased sharply from 30 to 10% in the third year in southern (<60°N) sites. Respiration rates of southern sites were less (40% on average) than those of northern sites. Humus layer N was positively correlated to needle weight loss during the first and the second years, but negatively correlated in the third year and to respiration rates. The results indicated that litter formed in southern Sweden became more recalcitrant in later stages of decomposition compared to litter produced in northern Sweden.
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