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Research determines role insects and deadwood play in carbon cycle

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Research determines role insects and deadwood play in carbon cycle

· Some 10.9 giga-tons of carbon are released from deadwood in forests worldwide annually - equivalent to roughly 115% of fossil fuel emissions

· 29% of the carbon that's released from forests is actually released through insect decomposition

· University College Cork President among global team conducting research at forests in countries across six continents, including Ireland.

An international research team, including University College Cork President Prof John O’Halloran, has determined the annual contribution made by deadwood to the global carbon cycle and quantified the importance of insects in the decomposition of wood for the first time.

While living trees absorb a considerable amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and therefore play an important role in the protection of our climate, little is known about the role of dead and rotting trees in the global carbon cycle.

The decomposition of wood and the associated recycling of the nutrients are among the most important processes to take place in forests.

Just how much carbon is released from rotting wood worldwide? What role do insects play in this process? These questions were the focus of a global research project led by the Bavarian Forest National Park and coordinated by the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg and the Technical University of Munich.

This study, ‘The contribution of insects to global forest deadwood decomposition’ has now been published by the prestigious academic journal Nature.

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