The fixation of carbon by plants and the subsequent movement of carbon through ecological systems may be viewed as small-scale geochemical processes which are linked to the larger, geological circulation of carbon as a chemical element. On land plant debris often accumulates as dead organic matter, humus, and peat, which exist in and on the mineral soil to the depth of unweathered rock. Models of the worldÂ wide carbon cycle suggest that (a) the amount of carbon contained in world detritus is large, but poorly estimated; and (b) the amount of CO2 released from this detritus to the atmosphere is great, but remains poorly evaluated in terms of atmospheric CO2 balance (214). In this review, I estimate the amount of terrestrial world detritus, paying special attention to detritus which exists as deep and dispersed organic matter in the soil profile. I also review studies of soil respiration-the output of carbon as CO2 released to the atmosphere. A large literature of soil respiration is reviewed to synthesize worldwide trends in the data. CARBON ACCUMULATION IN DETRITUS In forest ecosystems detrital carbon represents the total carbon in dead organic matter in the forest floor and in the underlying mineral soil
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1977
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