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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Kalbitz, K; Glaser, B; Bol, R: Clear-cutting of a Norway spruce stand: implications for controls on the dynamics of dissolved organic matter in the forest floor, European Journal of Soil Science, 55, 401-413 (2004)
Clear-cutting of forest provides a unique opportunity to study the response of dynamic controls on dissolved organic matter. We examined differences in concentrations, fluxes and properties of dissolved organic matter from a control and a clear-cut stand to reveal controlling factors on its dynamics. We measured dissolved organic C and N concentrations and fluxes in the Oi, Oe and Oa horizons of a Norway spruce stand and an adjacent clear-cutting over 3 years. Aromaticity and complexity of organic molecules were determined by UV and fluorescence spectroscopy, and we measured d13C ratios over 1 year. Annual fluxes of dissolved organic C and N remained unchanged in the thin Oi horizon (~260 kg C ha-1, ~8.5 kg N ha-1), despite the large reduction in fresh organic matter inputs after clear-cutting. We conclude that production of dissolved organic matter is not limited by lack of resource. Gross fluxes of dissolved organic C and N increased by about 60% in the Oe and 40% in the Oa horizon upon clear-cutting. Increasing organic C and N concentrations and increasing water fluxes resulted in 380 kg C ha-1 year-1 and 10.5 kg N ha-1 year-1 entering the mineral soil of the clear-cut plots. We found numerous indications that the greater microbial activity induced by an increased temperature of 1.5 °C in the forest floor is the major factor controlling the enhanced production of dissolved organic matter. Increasing aromaticity and complexity of organic molecules and depletion of 13C pointed to an accelerated processing of more strongly decomposed parts of the forest floor resulting in increased release of lignin-derived molecules after clear-cutting. The largest net fluxes of dissolved organic C and N were in the Oi horizon, yet dissolved organic matter sampled in the Oa horizon did not originate mainly from the Oi horizon. Largest gross fluxes in the Oa horizon (control: 282 kg C ha-1) and increased aromaticity and complexity of the molecules with increasing depth suggested that dissolved organic matter was derived mainly from decomposition, transformation and leaching of more decomposed material of the forest floor. Our results imply that clear-cutting releases additional dissolved organic matter which is sequestered in the mineral soil where it has greater resistance to microbial decay.
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