Stone.etal.2019.LitterMassLoss

Macro-invertebrate leaf litter mass loss data from 157 individual 25 x 25 cm, nylon mesh litter bags (mesh size 1 mm). 200 bags were deployed across 25 sites in pasture, mature rainforest and regrowth in sub-tropical Australia for five and eight months. However, some bags developed holes or went missing in the field and were excluded from analyses. Each bag contained leaves of five local tree species common in the study area, but collected from trees outside it in a mature, undamaged condition, one month prior to the experiment. The selected species represented a mix of soft and firm leaves and the pioneer, mid and late successional stages of regeneration: Toona ciliata, Ficus macrophylla, Macaranga tanarius, Castanospermum austral, and Acacia disparrima. Leaves of all species except A. disparrima were cut into 2 x 3 cm pieces to standardise leaf weight and size, and then oven-dried at 50 °C until constant weight, thereby obtaining dry weights of about 0.02 g per leaf-piece. About 4 g of each species was then placed into each bag, totalling about 20 g per bag. We also perforated half of the bags (100 of 200) by making 12, 1-2 cm cuts, six into each side. For each site, this gave four open bags (which allowed access by all sizes of invertebrate) and four closed bags (which excluded macro-invertebrates due to the 1 mm mesh size).