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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Modelling Dissolved Organic Carbon Production in Coniferous Forest Soils

Agren, Goran I.; Kleja, Dan B.; Bosatta, Ernesto


The production of dissolved carbon (DOC) in forest soils is still not well understood as a result of difficulties in isolating co-occurring processes. We have used an extension of the continuous-quality theory to analyze the consequences of three modes for DOC production in coniferous forest soils: Model A, the production of DOC occurs through physical leaching of soil organic carbon (SOC) and the composition of DOC is proportional to the composition of SOC with respect to carbon (C) qualities; Model B, the production of DOC occurs when the decomposers use SOC and the composition of DOC will be proportional to the composition of SOC that decomposers extract; and Model C, the production of DOC is associated with mortality of decomposers and the composition of DOC reflects the composition of decomposer biomass. The results from Models B and C resemble each other but differ from Model A. Models B and C lead to a larger fraction of C being lost through leaching, a higher quality of the C leached, and a lower C-14 age of the leached C than Model A. Models B and C differ with respect to properties of DOC leached from a horizon. All three models were found capable of describing stores of C in and leaching of DOC from an organic horizon and an underlying mineral soil in three temperate/boreal Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] forests. Microbial activity should always be an important agent for DOC production. Model B and, in particular, Model C suggest a lager contribution of microbially processed C in DOC than Model A.

Published in

Soil Science Society of America Journal
2018, Volume: 82, number: 6, pages: 1392-1403