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The effects of climate change on decomposition processes in Andean Paramo ecosystem-synthesis, a systematic review

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Abstract

The paramo is a high mountain ecosystem with cold and humid climate, it has high amount of sunlight and cloudiness, furthermore, organic matter has low decomposition rates, hence, leaf litter degradation gets 40% per year as maximum. In the last 70 years, the air temperature near the surface of the Tropical Andes has increased significantly up to 0.34 °C/decade. In the same region, it is estimated that in this century the average temperature will vary from + 2.61 °C, which exceeds the threshold of natural climatic variability. On the other hand, although precipitation along the Andes has not shown an increase or diminish pattern between 1955 and 1994, it is projected that by the year 2100, it will decrease in the outer tropics and will increase in the interior tropics. In this paper, we discuss how the decomposition of organic matter in paramo areas is influenced by climate change and analyze how current trends of variation in temperature are projected to affect ecosystem processes. Previous studies have determined that the increase of the atmospheric temperature (as long as the humidity remains stable or increases), generates higher decomposition rates, so that an increase of 1 °C in the atmospheric temperature would also mean an increase in the rate of decomposition of up to 10%. These changes would cause the release of the carbon accumulated in the soil to the atmosphere as CO2, which would be a determining factor for climate change.

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Gutiérrez-Salazar, P., & Medrano-Vizcaíno, P. (2019). The effects of climate change on decomposition processes in Andean Paramo ecosystem-synthesis, a systematic review. Applied Ecology and Environmental Research. Corvinus University of Budapest. https://doi.org/10.15666/aeer/1702_49574970

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