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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - PEDOLOGY

Soil Organic Matter Processes in Old-Growth Redwood Forest Canopies


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 1, p. 161-171
    Received: Jan 26, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): hze0002@auburn.edu
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  1. Heather A. Enloe *ab,
  2. Sylvie A. Quideaub,
  3. Robert C. Grahama,
  4. Stephen C. Sillettd,
  5. S.-W. Ohef and
  6. R. E. Wasylisheng
  1. a Soil & Water Sciences Program, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0424
    b currently at School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5418
    d Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521
    e Department of Chemistry, Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2G2 Canada
    f currently at Department of Chemistry, Mokpo National Univ., Muan, Chonnam 534-729, Republic of Korea
    g Department of Chemistry, Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada T6G 2G2


Organic soils up to 1 m thick cover tree surfaces within the canopies of old-growth redwood [Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl.] forests 50 m or more above the ground. Very little is known about litter quality and litter decomposition processes within these canopies. A combination of solid-state cross-polarization magic-angle spinning 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, natural 13C and 15N isotopic analyses, and proximate analyses were used to gain insight into soil organic matter accumulation and decay processes within two arboreal soils. Arboreal soil, redwood, and fern (Polypodium scouleri Hook. & Grev.) litter as well as epiphyte roots were analyzed. Proximate analyses showed that the arboreal soil parent materials contained a high concentration of the acid residue fraction (i.e., Klason lignin), from 379 g kg−1 for fern rhizomes up to 652 g kg−1 for redwood bark litter. This high concentration of acid residue fraction in the soil parent materials probably promotes organic matter accumulation within the tree crown. Results from 13C NMR spectroscopy analyses indicated a preferential decomposition of carbohydrates and an accumulation of alkyl structures from the redwood and fern litter to the <2-mm soil materials and from the Oi to the Oa horizons in both soils. On the other hand, there was no consistent variation in terms of C/N ratios and stable isotope composition along the depth gradient, suggesting that organic matter in these soils has undergone limited microbial processing but instead reflects the selective preservation of recalcitrant litter moieties.

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