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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 61 No. 4, p. 1190-1195
    Received: Nov 6, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): /S=t.jain/OU1=S22L04A@mhsfswa.attmail.com
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Carbon to Organic Matter Ratios for Soils in Rocky Mountain Coniferous Forests

  1. Theresa B. Jain ,
  2. Russell T. Graham and
  3. David L. Adams
  1. USDA, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, 1221 S. Main, Moscow, ID 83843
    College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Sciences, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83843



Vegetation type, soils, climate, and conversion ratios influence estimates of terrestrial C. Our objectives were to (i) determine carbon to organic matter (C/OM) ratios for brown cubical rotten wood, litter, surface humus, soil wood, and mineral soils; (ii) evaluate the validity of using 0.58 and 0.50 ratios for estimating C in mineral and organic soil components, respectively; and (iii) determine if C/OM relationships were applicable across broad geographic areas. The study sites were located from the southern to northern Rocky Mountains. They differed in vegetation, soil parent material, and climate. The C/OM regression slopes we developed for organic components were quite consistent and relatively constant across vegetation types ranging from 0.43 to 0.51 and were similar to the 0.50 traditional ratio. The C/OM regression slopes for mineral soils ranged from 0.16 to 0.48 depending on vegetation type. These slopes were lower than the 0.58 ratio often applied. The reliability of simple ratios when used in estimating C as a function of organic matter is often overestimated. Error and bias can be introduced into C estimates when using simple ratios. This study refined C/OM regressions for mineral soils and provided regressions for organic soil components. Information developed in this study can be applied to improve regional and global C assessments.

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