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Journal Article

Amounts and degradability of dissolved organic carbon from foliar litter at different decomposition stages


Don,  A.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Don, A., & Kalbitz, K. (2005). Amounts and degradability of dissolved organic carbon from foliar litter at different decomposition stages. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 37(12), 2171-2179.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-D2AC-C
Litter is one of the main sources of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in forest soils and litter decomposition is an important control of carbon storage and DOC dynamics. The aim of our study was to evaluate (i) effects of tree species on DOC production and (ii) relationships between litter decomposition and the amount and quality of DOC. Five different types of leaves and needles were exposed in litterbags at two neighboring forest sites. Within 12 months we sampled the litterbags five times and leached aliquots of field moist litter in the laboratory. In the collected litter percolates we measured DOC concentrations and recorded UV and fluorescence spectra in order to estimate the aromaticity and complexity of the organic molecules. Furthermore, we investigated the biodegradability of DOC from fresh and decomposed litter during 6 weeks incubations. Fresh sycamore maple litter released the largest amounts of DOC reaching about 6.2% of litter C after applying precipitation of 94 turn. We leached 3.9, 1.6, 1.0 and 3.3% carbon from fresh mountain ash, beech, spruce and pine litter, respectively. In the initial phase of litter decomposition significantly decreasing DOC amounts were released with increasing litter mass loss. However, after mass loss exceeds 20% DOC production from needle litter tended to increase. UV and fluorescence spectra of percolates from pine and spruce litter indicated an increasing degree of aromaticity and complexity with increasing mass loss as often described for decomposing litter. However, for deciduous litter the relationship was less obvious. We assume that during litter decomposition the source of produced DOC in coniferous litter tended toward a larger contribution from lignin-derived compounds. Biodegradability of DOC from fresh litter was very high, ranging from 30 to 95% mineralized C. DOC from degraded litter was on average 34% less mineralizable than DOC from fresh litter. Taking into account the large DOC production from decomposed needles we can assume there is an important role for DOC in the accumulation of organic matter in soils during litter decomposition particularly in coniferous forests. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [References: 37]