Dissolved Organic Carbon Leaching from a Coniferous Forest Floor - A Field Manipulation Experiment
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Leaching of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the O layer is important for the carbon cycling of forest soils. Here we study the role of the Oi, Oe and Oa horizons in DOC leaching from the forest floor in field manipulations carried out in a Norway spruce forest stand in southern Sweden. The manipulations involved the addition and removal of litter and the removal of Oi, Oe and Oa horizons. Our data suggest that both recent litter and humified organic matter contribute significantly to the leaching of dissolved organic matter from the O layer. An addition of litter corresponding to four times annual litterfall resulted in a 35% increase in DOC concentrations and fluxes although the specific UV absorbance remained unchanged. The removal of litterfall and the Oi horizon resulted in a decreased DOC concentration and in a significant increase in the molar UV absorptivity. The DOC concentration under the Oa horizon was not significantly different from that under the Oe horizon and there were no increase in DOC flux, but rather a decrease, from the bottom of the Oe horizon to the bottom of the Oa horizon, suggesting that there is no net release of DOC in the Oa horizon. However, significant leaching of DOC occurred from the Oa horizon when litterfall and the Oi and Oe horizons were removed. This indicates that there is both a removal of DOC from the Oi and Oe horizons and a substantial production of DOC in the Oa horizon. Quantitatively, we suggest that the Oi, Oe and Oa horizons contributed approximately 20, 30 and 50%, respectively, to the overall leaching of DOC from the O layer.