[Advances in Ecological Research] Litter Decomposition: A Guide to Carbon and Nutrient Turnover Volume 38 || Preface

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  • PrefaceThe idea of this book, which we are able to oVer you now, thanks to Elsevier,was born several years ago when we were working together on review articles

    summarizing knowledge on litter decomposition, nutrient dynamics, and

    humus buildup in forests of the Northern Hemisphere. After years of study-

    ing organic matter decomposition, we considered ourselves to have good

    insight into the progress in this branch of ecology/biogeochemistry, and it

    was not diYcult to notice that, although intensively studied by a number ofresearch teams all over the world, the subject was not very well represented

    on the bookshelves. Virtually no single comprehensive book devoted to this

    subject had been published for a long time, and, in fact, very few have ever

    been published (see the References at the end of this volume). To both of

    usteaching ecology as well as more specialized courses in soil ecology and

    ecotoxicologythis situation was not merely unsatisfactory, considering the

    importance of decomposition processes for almost every aspect of life on

    earth, but also very inconvenient for our students who did not have any

    source summarizing the state of current research in the discipline.

    When you lack a proper handbook, you must write one yourself and we

    decided to do just that. Although many years have passed from the birth of

    the idea until we could submit the manuscript, not much has changed in the

    general market. One notable exception is the book coauthored by one of us

    and published by SpringerVerlag in 2003. However, while that book isdirected toward specialists, the present one has been written mostly with

    students and teachers in mind. We hope that this book will be useful at all

    levels of study, from general ecology courses, where decomposition process-

    es often are covered briefly, through more advanced courses in ecosystems

    ecology, soil ecology, and biogeochemistry, where at least some deeper

    aspects of organic matter decay should be covered, ending with courses for

    graduate students who decide to take the first step in their research careers in

    this topic. While teachers and students in more general subjects will find the

    most basic information on decomposition processes in this book, we hope

    that scientists and graduate students working on decomposition processes

    will be satisfied with the more detailed information and the overview of the

    latest publications on the topic as well as the methodological chapter where

  • vi PREFACEpractical information on methods useful in decomposition studies can be

    found. We hope that university teachers like us will find the book useful in

    preparing their courses. In particular, those who do not specialize in decom-

    position studies should find a wealth of knowledge gathered in one, relatively

    compact volume. A useful addition for classes and selfteaching is AppendixII, with real research data and an Internet link that can be used for learning

    diVerent statistical techniques mentioned in the book or even for organizingminor research projects without the necessity of spending long years on field

    studies, which, in most cases, is simply impossible during regular courses.

    Of course, we do not believe that our book will satisfy the needs of

    everyone. Throughout the book, we have had to find a balance between

    completeness of the knowledge presented and compactness of particular

    chapters. We realize that our personal opinion on what is the best tradeoVwas not necessarily optimal in all cases. Therefore, we will be happy to hear

    your opinions and suggestions. If the book appears useful, there is the

    possibility of publishing an updated version in a few years. Our emailaddresses are given below this Preface: you may be certain that every

    message will be carefully read and thought through.

    E-mail address:

    Bjo rn Ber g: BBE@k vl.dk, 07082124 24@ euromai l.se

    Rysz ard Laskows ki: r.lasko wski@ek o.uj.edu.pl



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