Plant Growth-Rate Dependence of Detrital Carbon Storage in Ecosystems

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Science  16 Jun 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5217, pp. 1606-1608
DOI: 10.1126/science.268.5217.1606


Detrital carbon accumulation accounts for most of an ecosystem's capacity to store organic carbon because the carbon contained as plant detritus exceeds that stored in living plants by about threefold. A comparative analysis of the mass and turnover of detrital carbon in ecosystems demonstrates that these properties are strongly related to the turnover rate of the dominant primary producers and are poorly related to ecosystem primary production. These results contribute to an understanding of the factors that control carbon storage in ecosystems and the role of carbon storage in the global carbon budget.