DOM composition and transformation in boreal forest soils: The effects of temperature and organic-horizon decomposition state

Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

The boreal region stores large amounts of organic carbon (C) in organic-soil horizons, which are vulnerable to destabilization via warming and disturbance. Decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to the production and turnover of dissolved organic matter (DOM). While temperature is a primary control on rates of SOM and DOM cycling, little is known about temperature effects on DOM composition in soil leachate. Here we conducted a 30 day incubation to examine the effects of temperature (20 versus 5°C) and SOM decomposition state (moss versus fibric versus amorphous horizons) on DOM composition in organic soils of interior Alaska. We characterized DOM using bulk dissolved organic C (DOC) concentration, chemical fractionation, optical properties, and ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry. We observed an increase in DOC concentration and DOM aromaticity in the 20°C treatment compared to the 5°C treatment. Leachate from fibric horizons had higher DOC concentration than shallow moss or deep amorphous horizons. We also observed chemical shifts in DOM leachate over time, including increases in hydrophobic organic acids, polyphenols, and condensed aromatics and decreases in low-molecular weight hydrophilic compounds and aliphatics. We compared ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry and optical data and observed strong correlations between polyphenols, condensed aromatics, SUVA254, and humic-like fluorescence intensities. These findings suggest that biolabile DOM was preferentially mineralized, and the magnitude of this transformation was determined by kinetics (i.e., temperature) and substrate quality (i.e., soil horizon). With future warming, our findings indicate that organic soils may release higher concentrations of aromatic DOM to aquatic ecosystems.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title DOM composition and transformation in boreal forest soils: The effects of temperature and organic-horizon decomposition state
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
DOI 10.1002/2016JG003431
Volume 121
Issue 10
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher AGU Publications
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 18 p.
First page 2727
Last page 2744