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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Borken, W; Beese, F: Methane and nitrous oxide fluxes of soils in pure and mixed stand of European beech and Norway spruce, European Journal of Soil Science, 57, 617-625 (2006)
Tree species can affect the sink and source strength of soils for atmospheric methane and nitrous oxide. Here we report soil methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes of adjacent pure and mixed stands of beech and spruce at Solling, Germany. Mean CH4 uptake rates ranged between 18 and 48 µg C m-2 hour-1 during 2.5 years and were about twice as great in both mixed and the pure beech stand as in the pure spruce stand. CH4 uptake was negatively correlated with the dry mass of the O horizon, suggesting that this diminishes the transport of atmospheric CH4 into the mineral soil. Mean N2O emission was rather small, ranging between 6 and 16 µg N m-2 hour-1 in all stands. Forest type had a significant effect on N2O emission only in one mixed stand during the growing season. We removed the O horizon in additional plots to study its effect on gas fluxes over 1.5 years, but N2O emissions were not altered by this treatment. Surprisingly, CH4 uptake decreased in both mixed and the pure beech stands following the removal of the O horizon. The decrease in CH4 uptake coincided with an increase in the soil moisture content of the mineral soil. Hence, O horizons may maintain the gas diffusivity within the mineral soil by storing water which cannot penetrate into the mineral soil after rainfall. Our results indicate that conversion of beech forests to beech-spruce and pure spruce forests could decrease soil CH4 uptake, while the long-term effect on N2O emissions is expected to be rather small.
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