21 Feb 2022
21 Feb 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

aridec: an open database of litter mass loss from aridlands worldwide with recommendations on suitable model applications

Agustín Sarquis1,2, Ignacio Andrés Siebenhart1, Amy Theresa Austin1,2, and Carlos A. Sierra3,4 Agustín Sarquis et al.
  • 1Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, 1417, Argentina
  • 2Instituto de Investigaciones Fisiológicas y Ecológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura (IFEVA; CONICET-FAUBA), Buenos Aires, 1417, Argentina
  • 3Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, Jena, 07745, Germany
  • 4Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract. Plant litter decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems involves the physical and chemical breakdown of organic matter. Development of databases is a promising tool for achieving a predictive understanding of organic matter degradation at regional and global scales. In this paper we present aridec: a comprehensive open database con-taining litter-mass loss data from aridlands across the world. We describe in detail the structure of the database and discuss general patterns in the data. Then, we explore what are the most appropriate model structures to inte-grate with data on litter decomposition from the database by conducting a collinearity analysis. The database includes 184 entries from aridlands across the world, representing a wide range of climates. For the majority of the data gathered in aridec it is possible to fit models of litter decomposition that consider initial organic matter as a homogenous reservoir (one pool models), as well as models with two distinct types of organic compounds that decompose at different speeds (two pool models). Moreover, these two carbon pools can either decompose without interaction (parallel models), or with matter transfer from a labile pool to a slow-decomposing pool after transformation (series models). Although most entries in the database can be used to fit these models, we suggest potential users of this database to test identifiability for each individual case as well as the number of degrees of freedom. Other model applications that were not discussed in this publication might also be suitable for use with this database. Lastly, we give some recommendations for future decomposition studies to be potentially added to this database. The extent of the information included in aridec in addition to its open-science approach makes it a great platform for future collaborative efforts in the field of aridland biogeochemistry. The aridec version 1.0.1 is archived and publicly available at (Sarquis et al., 2022), and the database is managed under a version-controlled system and centrally stored in GitHub (, last access: 9 February 2022).

Agustín Sarquis et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-54', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 May 2022 reply

Agustín Sarquis et al.

Data sets

aridec Sarquis, Agustín; Siebenhart, Ignacio Andrés; Austin, Amy T.; Sierra, Carlos A.

Agustín Sarquis et al.


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Short summary
Plant litter breakdown in aridlands is driven by different processes, compared to more humid ecosystems. A better understanding of these processes will allow us to make better predictions of future carbon cycling. We compiled a database of plant litter decomposition studies in aridlands called aridec and tested some modelling applications for potential users. aridec is open for use and collaboration, and we hope it will help answer newer and more important questions as the database develops.