Honors College Thesis


Characterization of soil carbon and nitrogen pools following a decade of detritus manipulation in a temperate coniferous forest Public Deposited

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  • Soil organic matter (SOM) is the result of the balance between decomposition and incorporation of detritus from both above and below ground sources into the soil. It composes only a fraction of the soil by mass but it is one of the most critical components. The Detritus Input and Removal Treatment (DIRT) experiment in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest (Blue River, OR) is a long-term ecological research (LTER) project designed to study the effects of detritus inputs on the accumulation and stabilization of SOM in an old-growth coniferous forest. Our project sought to characterize carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools and dynamics on these plots after the first ten years of detrital manipulations. Net N and C mineralization rates were estimated by laboratory incubation methods. C and N pools were characterized by sequential density fractionation and the recalcitrant C pool was estimated by acid hydrolysis. High net N mineralization rates in no root and no input plots complement high dissolved organic nitrogen losses from previous studies on these same plots and suggest that root exudates and root turnover may be critical for effective N immobilization in this pristine old-growth forest. Increased woody detrital inputs lead to a trend for increased C and N content in the light fraction, but we hypothesize that more time is needed to see similar shifts in the heavier fractions. The recalcitrant C pool remains unaffected in all but the no input plots, where the recalcitrant C pool has decreased. Decrease in the C content of the light fraction though double the natural medium-quality litter has been added for a decade in double litter plots provides further evidence of the priming effect.
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