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    Author(s): Mark E. Harmon; Whendee L. Silver; Becky Fasth; Hua Chen; Ingrid C. Burke; William J. Partons; Stephen C. Hart; William S. Currie
    Date: 2009
    Source: Global Change Biology -- doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01837.x
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.51 MB)


    Decomposition is a critical process in global carbon cycling. During decomposition, leaf and fine root litter may undergo a later, relatively slow phase; past long-term experiments indicate this phase occurs, but whether it is a general phenomenon has not been examined. Data from Long-term Intersite Decomposition Experiment Team, representing 27 sites and nine litter types (for a total of 234 cases) was used to test the frequency of this later, slow phase of decomposition. Comparison of the long-term integrated decomposition rate (which included all phases of decomposition) to that for the first year of decomposition indicated the former was on average 75% that of the latter, consistent with the presence of a slow phase of decomposition. These results indicate that the global store of litter estimated using short-term decomposition rates would be underestimated by at least one-third.

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    Harmon, Mark E.; Silver, Whendee L.; Fasth, Becky; Chen, Hua; Burke, Ingrid C.; Partons, William J.; Hart, Stephen C.; Currie, William S.; LIDET. 2009. Long-term patterns of mass loss during the decomposition of leaf and fine root litter: an intersite comparison. Global Change Biology. 15: 1320-1338.


    carbon modeling, terrestrial decomposition, litter, intersite research

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