Moss-rich terrestrial communities are widely distributed in low- and high-latitude environments, covering vast surface areas in the boreal forests and tundra. The microbial biota in these organic-rich communities may contribute substantially to the carbon budget of terrestrial communities and the carbon cycle on a global scale. Recent research is reported on the carbon content of microbial communities in some temperate and high-latitude moss communities. The total carbon content and potential respiratory carbon dioxide (CO(2)) efflux is reported for bacteria, microflagellates, naked amoebae, and testate amoebae within sampling sites at a northeastern forest and the tundra at Toolik, Alaska. Quantitative models of the predicted total CO(2) efflux from the microbes, based on microscopic observations and enumeration of the microbiota in samples from the research sites, are described and predictions are compared with published field-based data of CO(2) efflux. The significance of the predictions for climate change and global warming are discussed.