People are destroying forests in the tropics.
An international group of scientists, which included a biologist from Moscow state University named after M. V. Lomonosov, was researching the effects of agricultural land use in the tropics. Their work showed that the cultivation of cultural plants slows down the decomposition of litter and reduces soil quality. A study published in the journal Oecologia.
The authors studied the decomposition of litter and activity of soil microorganisms in the territories covered by natural tropical forests and plantations of rubber and oil palm. Scientists have left the containers with three types of litter (leaves rubber and oil palm and trees typical of natural tropical forests) in the forests of four types: the usual tropical forest, rubber jungle and rubber plantations and oil palm. Some of the containers scientists took six months, and the rest — a year after the start of the experiment. After receiving the samples decayed litter, biologists have measured the mass (how much it has decreased over time) and studied the microorganisms: their diversity and quantity.
The results showed that in the first six months, faster decomposing leaves from the plantations, however, after this litter from the rain forest and begins to decompose faster and after one year it had less than. In addition, the ecosystem of natural forest was more suited for processing different types of litter. For the 12 months they disintegrated 81% of the contents of the containers in jungle rubber, oil and rubber plantations — 65%, 63% and 53%, respectively. The composition of the litter also depends largely on the composition and number of soil microorganisms: bacteria, fungi, and testate amoebae. However, the diversity of the past is strongly affected by the type of economic use of land.
Overall, the scientists conclude, the change from natural vegetation to one predominant culture (oilseeds, rubber or palm) changes the composition of soil microorganisms and adversely affects the decomposition of litter.