Organic Matter

  • Robert G. Wetzel
  • Gene E. Likens


Organic matter in aquatic ecosystems ranges from dissolved organic compounds to large aggregates of particulate organic matter, and from living to dead material. A majority of this organic matter, whether dissolved or particulate, is detritus, i.e., organic matter from dead organisms. Metabolism of the organic matter and interactions of this material chemically and biologically, are, to a large extent, governed by the size of the organic matter. Little, if any, dissolved organic matter is utilized by aquatic animals directly, whereas particulate organic matter of a given size range may be a major food source. Decomposition of dissolved organic matter results in gaseous end products; particulate organic matter must be converted enzymatically to soluble organic compounds by certain microflora with this capability.


Organic Matter Organic Carbon Particulate Organic Matter Particulate Organic Carbon Dissolve Organic Matter 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Wetzel
    • 1
  • Gene E. Likens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Ecosystem StudiesThe New York Botanical Garden, Cary ArboretumMillbrookUSA

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