In forested ecosystems, litter fall is the largest source of organic material and nutrients for the humus layer. The quality and quantity of litter fall influences nature of the microbial community, including its size, composition, function and physiological properties. The composition of the microbial community may, in turn, influence the course of decomposition and the chemical changes in the litter during decomposition. With knowledge about the initial chemical composition of litter and the chemical changes during decomposition, it is possible to predict how mass-loss rates will change even in late decomposition stages. With a close connection between the chemical composition of newly shed litter and the relative amount of recalcitrant residual litter (Chap. 11), we see a direct connection between litter chemical composition and rate of humus (soil organic matter) buildup.
KeywordsFine Root Secondary Wall Litter Type European Beech Litter Fall
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