Background and aims In cold biomes, litter decomposition, which controls the nutrient availability for plants and the ecosystem carbon budget, is strongly influenced by climatic conditions. In this study, focused on the early litter decay within snowbed habitats, the magnitude of the short- and long-term influences of climate warming, the direction of the effects of warmer temperature and advanced snowmelt, and the control of microclimatic features and plant traits were compared. Methods Combining experimental warming and spacefor- time substitution, mass loss and nutrient release of different plant functional types were estimated in different climatic treatments with the litter bag method. Results Plant functional types produced a larger variation in the early-decomposition compared to that produced by climatic treatments. Litter decay was not affected by warmer summer temperatures and reduced by advanced snowmelt. Structural-related plant traits exerted the major control over litter decomposition. Conclusions Long-term effects of climate warming, resulting from shifts in litter quality due to changes in the abundance of plant functional types, will likely have a stronger impact on plant litter decomposition than shortterm variations in microclimatic features. This weaker response of litter decay to short-term climate changes may be partially due to the opposite influences of higher summer temperatures and advanced snowmelt time.
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