www.DEC   TAB.org
A tool to study decomposition & consumption of organic matter

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Copyright 2012 by "E.R. Hunting and A.A. Kampfraath"    All Rights reserved 
Here researchers have the
opportunity to interact with other
researchers on all tips and tricks 
related to the use of DECOTABs
An overview of most finished and
ongoing research projects and
monitoring programs that use
DECOTAB.org provides a resource for
researchers on all aspects related to
the preparation and application of
Decomposition and consumption tablets (DECOTABs) can be used as a surrogate plant litter subsitute to study the microbial decomposition and invertebrate consumption of organic matter in aquatic environments. 

While traditional approaches to study litter decomposition in aquatic environments (e.g. litter bags and cotton strips) can adequately mimic natural conditions in many situations, rigorous  tests  of  the  mechanisms  responsible for differences in decompositionare remain difficult with approaches relying on natural litter that varies in many quality attributes. Selecting individual plant litter species for large-scale studies  is  only  a  partial  remedy because litter quality can vary widely even within a given plant species. Filterpaper and cotton strips have therefore been used as substitutes for natural plant litter. Cotton strips, in particular, are used as a standardized substrate for this purpose because they are essentially composed of cellulose, a major component of plant litter. However, the  composition of cotton strips is difficult to manipulate, thereby hampering reseachers to experimentally  test  for effects of specific chemical plant constituents or compounds inhibiting microbial or detritivore activity (e.g., antibiotics, fungicides, insecticides). 

DECOTABs offer the oppertunity to overcome these constraints. DECOTABs are essentially an agar-matrix in which cellulose can be added to serve as a standardized substrate, or in which their chemical composition can be adjusted easily for experimental purposes. The method has been described in detail by Kampfraath et al., 2012 in Freshwater Science, and is available on this website as this step-by-step protocol. 

(click on items to follow link)

Major assets of the DECOTAB approach:

   - Simple
   - Cheap
   - Adjustable chemical composition
   - Adjustable size
   - Adjustable shape

Please note the additional methodological considerations and experiences
from other researchers that are posted on this site at the interactive forum

Please use the following citation when using the DECOTAB-approach:

Kampfraath, A. A., Hunting, E. R., Mulder, C., Breure, A. M., Gessner, M. O., Kraak, M. H.S., & Admiraal, W. (2012). DECOTAB: a multipurpose standard substrate to assess effects of litter quality on microbial decomposition and invertebrate consumption. Freshwater Science, 31(4), 1156-1162. www.decotab.org
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