Eurasian Soil Science

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 422–431 | Cite as

Effect of temperature and moisture on the mineralization and humification of leaf litter in a model incubation experiment

  • A. A. Larionova
  • A. N. Maltseva
  • V. O. Lopes de Gerenyu
  • A. K. Kvitkina
  • S. S. Bykhovets
  • B. N. Zolotareva
  • V. N. Kudeyarov
Soil Chemistry


The mineralization and humification of leaf litter collected in a mixed forest of the Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve depending on temperature (2, 12, and 22°C) and moisture (15, 30, 70, 100, and 150% of water holding capacity ( WHC)) has been studied in long-term incubation experiments. Mineralization is the most sensitive to temperature changes at the early stage of decomposition; the Q 10 value at the beginning of the experiment (1.5–2.7) is higher than at the later decomposition stages (0.3–1.3). Carbon losses usually exceed nitrogen losses during decomposition. Intensive nitrogen losses are observed only at the high temperature and moisture of litter (22°C and 100% WHC). Humification determined from the accumulation of humic substances in the end of incubation decreases from 34 to 9% with increasing moisture and temperature. The degree of humification CHA/CFA is maximum (1.14) at 12°C and 15% WHC; therefore, these temperature and moisture conditions are considered optimal for humification. Humification calculated from the limit value of litter mineralization is almost independent of temperature, but it significantly decreases from 70 to 3% with increasing moisture. A possible reason for the difference between the humification values measured by two methods is the conservation of a significant part of hemicelluloses, cellulose, and lignin during the transformation of litter and the formation of a complex of humic substances with plant residues, where HSs fulfill a protectoral role and decrease the decomposition rate of plant biopolymers.


soil organic matter labile and stable pools CO2 emission decomposition of plant residues humification mineralization soil temperature and moisture temperature coefficient Q10 


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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. A. Larionova
    • 1
  • A. N. Maltseva
    • 1
  • V. O. Lopes de Gerenyu
    • 1
  • A. K. Kvitkina
    • 1
  • S. S. Bykhovets
    • 1
  • B. N. Zolotareva
    • 1
  • V. N. Kudeyarov
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil ScienceRussian Academy of SciencesPushchinoRussia

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