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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Schulze, K; Borken, W; Muhr, J; Matzner, E: Stock, turnover time and accumulation of organic matter in bulk and density fractions of a podzol soil., European Journal of Soil Science, 60, 567-577 (2009), doi:10.1111/j.1365-2389.2009.01134.x
Temperate forest soils store large amounts of organic matter and are considered as net sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Information about the sink strength and the turnover time of soil organic carbon (SOC) is required to assess the potential response of soils to climate change. Here we report on stocks, turnover times (TT) and accumulation of SOC in bulk soil and density fractions from genetic horizons of a Podzol in the Fichtelgebirge, Germany. Stocks of SOC, total nitrogen and exchangeable cations determined in nine quantitative soil pits strongly varied with stone content and thickness of horizons in both the organic layer and the mineral soil. On the basis of radiocarbon signatures, mean turnover times of 4, 9 and 133 years, respectively, were calculated for Oi, Oe and Oa horizons from three soil pits, using a non-steady-state model. The Oa horizons accumulated 4–8 g C m−2 year−1 whereas the Oi and Oe horizons were close to steady-state during the past decade. Free particulate organic matter (FPOM) was the most abundant fraction in the Oa and EA horizons with TT of 70–480 years. In the B horizons, mineral associated organic matter (MAOM) dominated with over 40% of total SOC and had TT of 390–2170 years. In contrast to other horizons, MAOM in the Bsh and Bs horizon had generally faster TT than occluded particulate organic matter (OPOM), possibly because of sorption of dissolved organic carbon by iron and aluminium oxides/hydroxides. Our results suggest that organic horizons with relatively short turnover times could be particularly vulnerable to changes in climate or other disturbances.
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