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Decomposition is the process by which organic matter and its associated nutrients and minerals are recycled through the biosphere by soil organisms. Three-fourths of all terrestrial carbon is present in soil, and various soils have different levels of carbon storage and decomposition rates.

Put simply, decomposition is the breakdown of complex organic molecules into simpler organic molecules by soil organisms, particularly bacteria and fungi. Decomposition begins when dead organic material such as plant leaves, roots, and wood, soil animals, soil microbes, plant root exudates, and soil animal excretions are deposited onto and into soil. Plant material accounts for the majority of organic matter, and thus carbon, added to soil organic matter pools in most ecosystems. Soil animals such as worms, insects, and small mammals mix the ...

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