Forest Soil Ecology and Soil Organic Carbon
Storage of organic carbon (C) in forest soils is dependent on plant production rates, allocation of C, decomposition rate of products entering the soil, and stabilization within the soil by aggregation, absorption, and humification. Soil organic matter results from the protection of a small portion of annual net plant productivity from decomposition by the soil biota, aggregates, clay surfaces, and humification. The number of species involved with C transformations in forest soils is truly staggering. There are representatives from every kingdom, and the rates and products of decomposition are intimately related to the diversity present. Fungi often exceed the bacteria in biomass and carry out the decomposition of most of the structural components of plant residues in aerobic environments. Sequestration of C in forest soils is dependent on the interaction of soil organisms with each other and their environment.