Decomposition of Litter and Peat in the Everglades: The Influence of P Concentrations

  • Robert G. Qualls
  • Curtis J. Richardson
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 201)

The accumulation of organic carbon in soil is determined by the balance of net primary production and mineralization of carbon via decomposition. Because the soils of the earth contain about twice as much C in the form of organic matter than is contained in the atmosphere, the factors that control this storage of carbon are important to the potential effects of rising atmospheric CO2 content. A large portion of the soil organic matter of the earth is stored in peatlands such as the Everglades (although boreal peatlands are far more expansive). Not only is carbon mineralized during the process of decomposition, but also the N, P, and other elements bonded to the organic matter are returned for continued cycling in the ecosystem. Consequently, the sequestration of these nutrients in peat often results in nutrient deficiencies in peat ecosystems. This sequestration of P, along with the lack of geological inputs, is likely to be one reason that the Everglades is P limited. In this chapter, we review work on decomposition in the Everglades and other wetlands and specifically review in detail our experimental approach to isolating the effect of P enrichment on litter. In addition, we present work on effects of P and N additions on mineralization of peat.


Microbial Biomass Decomposition Rate Litter Decomposition Litter Decomposition Rate Leaf Litter Decomposition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Qualls
    • 1
  • Curtis J. Richardson
    • 2
  1. 1.Natural Resources and Environmental ScienceUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA
  2. 2.Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesDuke University Wetland CenterDurhamUSA

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