Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Is The Ground Brown?

Date:
March 31, 2006
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Ecologists have long asked, Why is the world green? In other words, why aren't herbivores, such as insects and grazing animals, more successful at eating the world's green leaves, also known as plant biomass? In the May 2006 issue of American Naturalist, Steven D. Allison (University of California, Irvine) asks the same questions a different way: Why is the ground brown? Why don't the organisms that break down the carbon in the soil consume it all?

Ecologists have long asked, Why is the world green? In other words, why aren't herbivores, such as insects and grazing animals, more successful at eating the world's green leaves, also known as plant biomass? In the May 2006 issue of American Naturalist, Steven D. Allison (University of California, Irvine) asks the same questions a different way:

Related Articles


Why is the ground brown?

Why don't the organisms that break down the carbon in the soil consume it all?

Some of the same ecological factors make the world green and the ground brown, especially the carbon in plant material, the role of herbivores and decomposer organisms in consuming that carbon, and the role of predators in eating the consumers of the carbon. As it turns out, as Allison observes, "the chemical structure of soil carbon makes it far more difficult to consume than plant carbon."

There is about three times as much carbon in soil than in plant biomass. In addition, minerals in the soil can block decomposers from feeding on soil carbon. Allison also points out that most decomposers are of relatively small size compared to the animals eating green leaves.

"Instead of digesting material in their guts, decomposers depend on enzymes to partially digest their food sources outside their bodies," Allison explains. "This strategy is a major constraint on the breakdown of soil carbon that helps make the ground brown."

Steven D. Allison "Brown ground: a soil carbon analog for the green world hypothesis," The American Naturalist 167:5.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why Is The Ground Brown?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060331151723.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2006, March 31). Why Is The Ground Brown?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060331151723.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why Is The Ground Brown?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060331151723.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins