Changes in soil carbon during the establishment of a hardwood plantation in subtropical Australia
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Soil carbon (C) pools are not only important to governing soil properties and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems, but also play a critical role in global C cycling. Mulch and weed control treatments may alter soil C pools by changing organic matter inputs to the forest ecosystem. We studied the 12-month mulch and weed control responses on the chemical composition of soil organic C and the seasonal dynamics of water extractable organic C (WEOC), hot water extractable organic C (HWEOC), chloroform-released organic C (CHCl3-released C), and acid hydrolysed organic C (acid hydrolysable C) in a hardwood plantation of subtropical Australia. The results showed that compared with the non-mulch treatment, the mulch treatment significantly increased soil WEOC, HWEOC, and CHCl3-released C over the four sampling months. The weed control treatment significantly reduced the amount of HWEOC and CHCl3-released C compared with the no weed control treatment. Neither the mulch nor weed control treatment significantly affected soil acid hydrolysed organic C. There were no significant seasonal variations in soil WEOC, HWEOC, CHCl3-released C, and acid hydrolysed organic C in the hardwood plantation. Solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used to study the structural chemistry of soil C pools in hydrofluoric acid (HF) treated soils collected 12 months after the mulch and weed control treatments were applied. Overall, O-alkyl C was the dominant C fraction, accounting for 33-43% of the total NMR signal intensity. The mulch treatment led to higher signal intensity in the alkyl C spectral region and A/O-A ratio (the ratio of alkyl C region intensity to O-alkyl C region intensity), but lower signal intensity in the aryl C and aromaticity. Compared with the no weed control treatment, the weed control treatment reduced signal intensity in the aryl C and aromaticity. Together, shifts in the amount and nature of soil C following the mulch and weed control treatments may be due to the changes in organic matter input and soil physical environment.
Forest Ecology and Management
© 2008 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.