Climatic Influence on Litter Decomposition: Methods and Some Results of a NW- European Transect

  • Per-Erik Jansson
  • Annemieke Reurslag


A method for evaluating climatic influence on litter decomposition in the field is presented. The method is based on monitoring litter decomposition rates and simulating the soil moisture and temperature conditions. Litter bags with a unified substratum of Scots pine needles were used at 16 sites, differing in climate and other environmental conditions along a NW-European transect. The soil climate was simulated by a physically based model using meteorological data and information on vegetation and soil properties as input. Decomposition rates were related to response functions for temperature, moisture, actual transpiration and combinations of these variables, by linear regression, to quantity the role of the rate-regulating physical variables. Spatial variation in decomposition rates along the NW-European transect was best explained by corresponding variation in soil temperature or transpiration, while temporal variation was best explained by the response function combining temperature and soil water. The remaining unexplained variation was ascribed to differences in chemical and biological factors between sites.


Response Function Decomposition Rate Litter Decomposition Litter Decomposition Rate Water Tension 
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Copyright information

© ECSC, EEC, EAEC, Brussels and Luxembourg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per-Erik Jansson
    • 1
  • Annemieke Reurslag
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil SciencesSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

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