Faculté des sciences

Plant Litter Decomposition and Nutrient Release in Peatlands

Bragazza, Luca ; Buttler, Alexandre ; Siegenthaler, Andy ; Mitchell, Edward A. D.

In: Carbon Cycling in Northern Peatlands (Geophysical Monograph Series), 2008, vol. 184, p. 99-110

Decomposition of plant litter is a crucial process in controlling the carbon balance of peatlands. Indeed, as long as the rate of litter decomposition remains lower than the rate of above- and belowground litter production, a net accumulation of peat and, thus, carbon will take place. In addition, decomposition controls the release of important nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and... Plus

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    Summary
    Decomposition of plant litter is a crucial process in controlling the carbon balance of peatlands. Indeed, as long as the rate of litter decomposition remains lower than the rate of above- and belowground litter production, a net accumulation of peat and, thus, carbon will take place. In addition, decomposition controls the release of important nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the availability of which affects the structure and the functioning of plant communities. This chapter describes the role of the main drivers in affecting mass loss and nutrient release from recently deposited plant litter. In particular, the rate of mass loss of Sphagnum litter and vascular plant litter is reviewed in relation to regional climatic conditions, aerobic/anaerobic conditions, and litter chemistry. The rate of nutrient release is discussed in relation to the rate of mass loss and associated litter chemistry by means of a specific case study.