Journal Highlights

Integrating the activities of soil microorganisms into mathematical models

Editor’s Highlight—


This paper examines the ramifications of incorporating specific microbial controls on decomposition processes. At the core of this work is the integration of two previous models, DAMM and MCNiP, combining the more realistic effects of temperature and moisture on the kinetics of microbial-mediated decay from the former, with microbial characteristics controlling substrate catalysis from the latter. The work is timely in response to growing calls for more mechanism, particularly microbial activities, in global carbon models. It also focuses on some of the most pressing issues-climate change directly (soil temperature and moisture) and indirectly (timing and quality of plant products), as well as including biochemical mechanisms of microbial responses (metabolism, stoichiometry). The overall goal of inferring microbial processes rather than predicting decomposition, per se, by selecting model parameters to produce observed carbon dioxide efflux provided considerable insight to the various model assumptions. In other words, this is a modeler's study of models.