Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 138, Issue 1, pp 101–121

Soil Organic Matter Fractions in Experimental Forested Watersheds


  • Jennifer L. Parker
    • Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Maine
    • Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Maine
  • Lindsey E. Rustad
    • USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Experiment Station
  • Stephen A. Norton
    • Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of Maine

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015516607941

Cite this article as:
Parker, J.L., Fernandez, I.J., Rustad, L.E. et al. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution (2002) 138: 101. doi:10.1023/A:1015516607941


Recent concerns about climate change and atmospheric greenhousegas concentrations have demonstrated the importance ofunderstanding ecosystem C source/sink relationships. Soilorganic matter fractionation was carried out in three paired,forested watershed sites where one of each watershed pairrepresented a different ecosystem perturbation. Theperturbations were 8 years of experimental N amendments at theBear Brook Watershed in Maine (BBWM), a 50 year old intensewildfire and subsequent regeneration at Acadia National Park(ANP), and a 17 year old whole-tree harvest at the Weymouth PointWatershed (WPW). At each site, mineral soils were sampled byuniform depth increments. Mineral soil (< 2 mm) was separatedinto light, occluded light, and heavy density fractions byfloatation in NaI solution (1.7 g cm-3). Mineral soil (< 2mm) was also separated into particle-size fractions of sand (2.0to 0.05 mm), silt (0.05 to 0.002 mm), and clay (< 0.002 mm) bywet sieving and centrifugation. Whole soils, and density andparticle-size fractions were analyzed for total C and N. Bothfractionation schemes showed that all soil organic matterfractions had lower C/N ratios as a result of N enrichment atBBWM. At ANP, soil organic matter fractions generally had lowerC/N associated with the wildfire and subsequent shift fromsoftwood to hardwood regeneration. Few significant whole soiland soil organic matter fraction differences were associated withthe whole-tree harvest. Within watershed pairs, both density andparticle-size fractionation techniques usually indicated similarresponses. Soil organic matter fractionation results indicatedthat there were no consistent shifts in fraction distributions inresponse to perturbation that were consistent across all pairedwatershed study sites.

ecosystem perturbationforest soilssoil organicmatter fractions

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002