Title

The Role of Litter Decomposition, Fertility, and Litter-Dwelling Animals in the Carbon Cycle of a Tropical Rain Forest

Authors

Evan Poirson

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Abstract

Understanding the global carbon cycle is a crucial step in confronting one of the foremost concerns of our era: the unprecedented rate of worldwide climate change. Tropical rainforests, which process more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem, are an unparalleled research location in the effort to comprehend the implications of environmental variation on the cycling of carbon in food webs. As the continuation of a larger study begun in 2007, this research project completed measurements of decomposition and animal density across a fertility gradient at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Our results show that decomposition rate was independent of nutrients, but that ant communities, and particularly the species richness of specific functional groups of ants, affected the rate of decomposition.

Advisor

Beth Braker

Department

bio

Support

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Grant and National Science Foundation OISE-526551 to Prof. Braker

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