Organic Matter: Global Distribution in World Ecosystems

Authored by: Wilfred M. Post

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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The exact ratio between living and dead organic matter in terrestrial ecosystems varies, depending on the ecosystem. The amount of carbon stored in soil is determined by the balance of two biotic processes—the productivity of terrestrial vegetation and the decomposition of organic matter. Each of these processes has strong physical and biological controlling factors. Interactions among these controlling factors are of particular importance. These biological and physical factors are the same as the ones that influence the above ground structure and composition of terrestrial ecosystems, so there are strong correspondences between soil organic matter content and ecosystem type.

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