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Fundamental Processes in EcologyAn earth systems approach$
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David M Wilkinson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198568469

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198568469.001.0001

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Carbon sequestration

Carbon sequestration

Chapter:
(p.96) 8. Carbon sequestration
Source:
Fundamental Processes in Ecology
Author(s):

David M. Wilkinson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198568469.003.0008

While traditionally ecology textbooks only discuss the short term carbon cycle, the role of life has been crucial in the geological long term carbon cycle through processes such as silicate weathering. Arguments have been put forward for the co-evolution of CO2 levels and terrestrial plants — with adaptations to lower CO2 levels allowing large leaves to evolve. It seems clear that on Earth without the effect of life our planet would currently have a temperature which would rule out he survival of eukaryotic life. This suggests that carbon sequestration has a positive Gaian effect. However, this is probably a local conclusion which cannot be generalized to all other planets. More generally, these ideas illustrate the importance of biomass as a key feature of global ecologies. The effects of vegetation (or plankton) on carbon cycles are more directly linked to available biomass than species richness.

Keywords:   carbon cycle, silicate weathering, eukaryotes, biomass, vegetation, plankton, species richness, carbon sequestration, co-evolution, carbon dioxide

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