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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - Division S-7—Forest & Range Soils

Carbon Storage in Coarse and Fine Fractions of Pacific Northwest Old-Growth Forest Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 6, p. 2023-2030
    Received: Jan 5, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): homann@cc.wwu.edu
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  1. P. S. Homann *a,
  2. S. M. Remillardb,
  3. M. E. Harmonc and
  4. B. T. Bormannb
  1. a Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA, 98225-9181
    b USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis OR, 97331
    c Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR, 97331


Many assessments of soil C have been restricted to the <2-mm fraction, but C has recently been identified in >2-mm fractions of forest mineral soils. Our objective was to determine the importance of the >2-mm fraction to whole-soil C pools in Pacific Northwest old-growth coniferous forests. Seventy-nine pedons in 18 western Washington and Oregon forests were sampled to a depth of 100 cm. The <2-mm fraction was separated from the >2-mm fraction by air-drying, physically crushing soil, and sieving; C was determined by Leco combustion. The >2-mm fraction contained up to 46% of the whole-soil C and averaged 23% for the seven forests that had C in that fraction. Following treatment with sodium hexametaphosphate to disaggregate soil material, up to 20% of whole-soil C remained in the >2-mm fraction. Thus, the >2-mm fraction C appears to be in stable and unstable aggregates, as well as concretions. The whole-soil C in the surface 100 cm of mineral soil ranged from 30 to 400 Mg C ha−1 Multiple regression analysis indicated this C pool was positively related to available water capacity, annual precipitation, and coarse woody debris (r 2 = 0.63 to 0.66, n = 18 forests). Similar results were obtained with only the <2-mm soil C, which is the basis of previous regional evaluations. This suggests consideration of the >2-mm fraction does not alter our understanding of the importance of climate and soil texture as controls of soil C pools, but it does affect the quantification of soil C pools in many old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest.

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