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Biological processing of organics: the fate of leaf litter in the natural environment

McComb, A.J., Qiu, S., Bell, R.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755 and Davis, J.A. (2003) Biological processing of organics: the fate of leaf litter in the natural environment. In: ORBIT 2003 Organic Recovery and BIological Treatment Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference of ORBIT Association on Biological Processing of Organics: Advances for a Sustainable Society, 30 April - 2 May 2003, Perth, Western Australia

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This paper addresses litter decomposition in the terrestrial catchment of a wetland, and the consequent release of phosphorus (P). Microbial activity and P dynamics were monitored before and after the onset of winter rain along a transect from the bed of a small lake in Western Australia into its vegetated catchment. Microbial activity was measured in the field as CO2 production from surface soils, and in the laboratory as substrate induced respiration (SIR). Before rain, SIR was positively correlated with soil litter and organic content, and P extracted by anion exchange membrane (P AEM) was strongly correlated with site litter. With the onset of winter rain, soil moisture favoured microbial activity in the presence of nutrient flux from decomposing litter, and much of the bioavailable P inherited from the dry season was immobilized in microbial biomass. It is concluded that microbial activity plays an important role in regulating P flux from catchment litter.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Notes: In: Pullammanappallil, P., McComb, A., Diaz, L.F. and Bidlingmaier, W. (eds), ORBIT 2003 : organic recovery and biological treatment : proceedings of the fourth International Conference of ORBIT Association on biological processing of organics : advances for a sustainable society : 30 April-2 May 2003, Perth, Australia, pp 464-470.
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