Do Long-Term Changes in Organic Matter Inputs to Forest Soils Affect Dissolved Organic Matter Chemistry and Export?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
April Strid, Oregon State University, Crop and Soil Science, Corvallis, OR, United States, Baek Soo Lee, Oregon State University, Water Resources Engineering, Corvallis, OR, United States and Kate Lajtha, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States
Dissolved organic matter (DOM) production and transport play an important role in regulating organic matter (OM) distribution through a soil profile and ultimately, OM stabilization or export to aquatic systems. The contributions of varying OM inputs to the quality and amount of DOM as it passes through a soil profile remain relatively unknown. The Detrital Input and Removal Treatment (DIRT) site at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon has undergone 17 years of litter, wood and root input manipulations and allows us to guage shifts in DOM chemistry induced by long-term changes to aboveground and belowground OM additions and exclusions. Using fluorescence and UV spectroscopy to characterize fluorescent properties, extent of decomposition, and sources of DOM in streams and soil solutions collected with lysimeters and soil extractions, we have assessed the importance of fresh OM inputs to DOM chemistry.

Soil extracts from DIRT plots had a higher fluorescence index (FI) than lysimeter solutions or stream water. A high FI in surface water is generally interpreted as indicative of a high proportion of microbially-derived DOM. However, we suspect that the high FI in soil extracts is due to a higher proportion of non-aromatic DOM from fresh soil that microorganisms consume in transit through the soil profile to lysimeters or to streams. High redox index (RI) values were observed in lysimeters from the April 2014 sampling compared with the November 2013 sampling. These RI values show evidence of more reducing conditions at the end of the rainy season in the spring compared to the onset of the rainy season in the fall. Lysimeter water collected in No Input, No Litter, and No Root treatments contained high proportions of protein, suggesting the absence of carbon inputs changes activities of the microbial community. Observed variations reflect the viability of using fluorescent properties to explore the terrestrial-aquatic interface.