, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 286–300 | Cite as

Chemistry and Dynamics of Dissolved Organic Matter in a Temperate Coniferous Forest on Andic Soils: Effects of Litter Quality

  • Yuriko Yano
  • Kate Lajtha
  • Phillip Sollins
  • Bruce A. Caldwell


Dissolved organic matter (DOM) plays an important role in transporting carbon and nitrogen from forest floor to mineral soils in temperate forest ecosystems. Thus, the retention of DOM via sorption or microbial assimilation is one of the critical steps for soil organic matter formation in mineral soils. The chemical properties of DOM are assumed to control these processes, yet we lack fundamental information that links litter quality, DOM chemistry, and DOM retention. Here, we studied whether differences in litter quality affect solution chemistry and whether changes in litter inputs affect DOM quality and removal in the field. The effects of litter quality on solution chemistry were evaluated using chemical fractionation methods for laboratory extracts and for soil water collected from a temperate coniferous forest where litter inputs had been altered. In a laboratory extraction, litter type (needle, wood, root) and the degree of decomposition strongly influenced solution chemistry. Root litter produced more than 10 times more water-extractable dissolved organic N (DON) than any other litter type, suggesting that root litter may be most responsible for DON production in this forest ecosystem. The chemical composition of the O-horizon leachate was similar under all field treatments (doubled needle, doubled wood, and normal litter inputs). O-horizon leachate most resembled laboratory extracts of well-decomposed litter (that is, a high proportion of hydrophobic acids), in spite of the significant amount of litter C added to the forest floor and a tendency toward higher mean DOM under doubled-Litter treatments. A lag in DOM production from added litter or microbial modification might have obscured chemical differences in DOM under the different treatments. Net DOM removal in this forest soil was strong; DOM concentration in the water deep in the mineral soil was always low regardless of concentrations in water that entered the mineral soil and of litter input manipulation. High net removal of DOM from O-horizon leachate, in spite of extremely low initial hydrophilic neutral content (labile DOM), coupled with the lack of influence by season or soil depth, suggests that DOM retention in the soil was mostly by abiotic sorption.


dissolved organic carbon; DOC dissolved organic nitrogen; DON litter input manipulation soil solution chemistry sorption 



We thank Kermit Cromack, Mark Harmon, Bob Griffiths, and Jerry Qualls for analytical help and laboratory space; Scott Holub and Julie Spears for assistance with analyses; Shanna Penington and Jay Sexton for help in the field; and Mark Johnson and Dave Myrold for comments and discussion of the manuscript. McKenzie Forest Products and Swanson-Superior Forest Products of Oregon donated the wood material. Funding was provided by NSF DEB-0087081 and by USDA NRICGP 97-35101-4256. Additional support to Y. Yano was provided by the Department of Forest Science and the College of Forestry, Oregon State University. We acknowledge the support provided to the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest by the Pacific Northwest Station, USDA Forest Service, and the Willamette National Forest. Additional support to the Forest was provided by H.J. Andrews Long Term Ecological Research program, funded by National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuriko Yano
    • 1
  • Kate Lajtha
    • 2
  • Phillip Sollins
    • 1
  • Bruce A. Caldwell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Botany and Plant PathologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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