, Volume 22, Issue 1-2, pp 40-44

Disturbance effects on soil solution chemistry due to heating cable installation

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Installation of heating cables for warming soil was used to evaluate the effect of disturbance on soil solution chemistry within a northern hardwood forest (Adirondack Mountains, New York). Differences in response among treatments suggested the importance of both the depth and timing of cable installation. There were increases (p>0.05) in many solutes within pilot study plots in which “surrogate cable” was installed at 15 cm depth. Most notably, mean nitrate concentrations for the 1st year following disturbance were 744 μeq l-1 at 15 cm depth compared to 7 μeq l-1 for the non-disturbed control. A comparison of pilot plots with 5 cm cable depth and an unheated soil-warming control plot with the same cable disturbance showed that the seasonality of soil disturbance may have a key role in response to disturbance. The soil solution response was diminished if installation occurred during the spring, a period of rapid uptake of nitrogen by vegetation. Mean nitrate concentrations were 176 μeq l-1 for 5-cm pilot plots (installed in fall 1991) versus 6 μeq l-1 for 5-cm, unheated soil-warming control plots (installed in spring 1992). Disturbance effects were attenuated over time and not generally apparent 1 year after installation.