, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 258-262

Temperature dependence of organic matter decomposition: a critical review using literature data analyzed with different models

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 The literature was reviewed regarding laboratory incubation studies where C mineralization was measured. Experiments were selected in which the same substrate was incubated at least at two different temperatures and where time-series were available with at least four measurements for each substrate and temperature. A first-order one-component model and a parallel first-order two-component model were fitted to the CO2–C evolution data in each experiment using a least-squares procedure. After normalising for a reference temperature, the temperature coefficient (Q 10 ) function and three other temperature response functions were fitted to the estimated rate constants. The two-component model could describe the dynamics of the 25 experiments much more adequately than the one-component model (higher R2, adjusted for the number of parameters), even when the rate constants for both were assumed to be equally affected by temperature. The goodness-of-fit did not differ between the temperature response models, but was affected by the choice of the reference temperature. For the whole data set, a Q 10 of 2 was found to be adequate for describing the temperature dependence of decomposition in the intermediate temperature range (about 5–35  °C). However, for individual experiments, Q 10 values deviated greatly from 2. At least at temperatures below 5  °C, functions not based on Q 10 are probably more adequate. However, due to the paucity of data from low-temperature incubations, this conclusion is only tentative, and more experimental work is called for.

Received: 1 December 1997