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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Kalbitz, K; Geyer, W; Geyer, S: Spectroscopic properties of dissolved humic substances - a reflection of land use history in a fen area, Biogeochemistry, 47, 219-238 (1999)
The elemental composition and spectroscopic properties of dissolved fulvic acids isolated from different sampling media (topsoil, ground and surface water) of a natural fen area (high portion of organic soils) were examined to reveal the effects of land use history. These effects need to be known if dissolved humic substances are to be a major factor in identifying the impact of present and future changes in land use. Dissolved fulvic acids (topsoil, groundwater) from highly degraded peatlands (due to a long-term agricultural use) exhibit lower C/N ratios, higher absorption in the UV spectra, and higher absorption at 1,620 cm-1 in the FTIR spectra compared with fulvic acids from relatively intact peatlands. These properties illustrate that long-term agricultural use with high inputs results in increased aromatic structures and a further humification of dissolved fulvic acids due to very strong peat decomposition compared with relatively intact peatlands. Synchronous fluorescence spectra also indicate the higher level of aromatic structures within fulvic acids isolated from sites with long-term agricultural use (high peat decomposition) compared with a land use history resulting in a lower peat decomposition. The different sources of fulvic acids in surface water (precipitation, runoff, interflow, groundwater) are the main reason for these effects not being detected in fulvic acids isolated from surface water. Short-term changes in land use characterized by a transition from crop farming to an unimproved grassland were found not to affect the spectroscopic properties of dissolved fulvic acids. A humification index deduced from the synchronous fluorescence spectra is proposed. We have strong evidence that dissolved humic substances indicate changes in the environmental conditions (both anthropogenic and natural) of wetlands with a high proportion of organic soils.
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