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Decomposition agents

For 330 Decomposition agents from Chapin 2011

Decomposers Organism that breaks down dead organic matter and consumes the resulting energy and nutrients for its own production.
Decomposition Breakdown of dead organic matter through fragmentation, chemical alteration, and leaching.
Exoenzyme Enzyme that is secreted by an organism into the environment.
Fragmentation Breaking up of intact litter into small pieces.
Heterotrophs Organism that consumes organic matter produced by other organisms; includes decomposers, consumers, and parasites.
Heterotropic respiration Respiration by nonautotrophic organisms (i.e., microbes and animals).
Humus Complex mixture of soil organic compounds with highly irregular structure.
Hyphae Filamentous structures that make up the vegetative body of fungi.
Labile Easily decomposed.
Leaching Downward movement of materials in solution. This can occur from the canopy to the soil, from soil organic matter to the soil solution, from one soil horizon to another, or from the ecosystem to ground water or aquatic ecosystems.
Litter Dead plant material that is sufficiently intact to be recognizable.
microbe Microscopic organisms too small to be seen with the unaided eye that include bacteria and fungi.
Mineralization Conversion of carbon and nutrients from organic to inorganic forms due to the breakdown of litter and soil organic matter.
Mycorrhizae Symbiotic relationship between plant roots and fungal hyphae, in which the plant acquires nutrients from the fungus in return for carbohydrates that constitute the major carbon source for the fungus.
Organic matter Dead organic matter in the soil that has decomposed to the point that its original identity is uncertain.
Recalcitrant Resistant to microbial breakdown.
Resorption Withdrawal of nutrients from tissues during their senescence.
Rhizosphere Zone of soil that is directly influenced by roots.
Saprotrophic Eating dead organic matter (as with non-mycorrhizal fungi).
Senescence Programmed breakdown of plant tissues.
Stemflow Water that flows down stems to the ground.
Throughfall Water that drops from the canopy to the ground.
Transformation Conversion of the organic compounds contained in litter to recalcitrant organic compounds in soil humus. Also, fundamental change in the state of a system that results in different control variables and feedbacks defining the state of the system.
Trophic interactions Feeding relationships among organisms.
Trophic level organisms that obtain their energy with the same number of steps removed from plants or detritus.
Created by: mdcoleman