Concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon in an age-sequence of white pine forests in Southern Ontario, Canada
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We determined concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in precipitation, throughfall, forest floor and mineral soil leachates from June 2004 to May 2006 across an age-sequence (2-, 15-, 30-, and 65-year-old) of white pine (Pinus strobus L.) forests in southern Ontario, Canada. Mean DOC concentration in precipitation, throughfall, leachates of forest floor, Ah-horizon, and of mineral soil at 1 m depth ranged from ~2 to 7, 9 to 18, 32 to 88, 20 to 66, and 2 to 3 mg DOC L-¹, respectively, for all four stands from April (after snowmelt) through December. DOC concentration in forest floor leachates was highest in early summer and positively correlated to stand age, aboveground biomass and forest floor carbon pools. DOC fluxes via precipitation, throughfall, and leaching through forest floor and Ah-horizon between were in the range of ~1 to 2, 2 to 4, 0.5 to 3.5, and 0.1 to 2 g DOC m-², respectively. DOC export from the forest ecosystem during that period through infiltration and groundwater discharge was estimated as ~7, 4, 3, and 2 g DOC m-² for the 2-, 15-, 30-, and 65-year-old sites, respectively, indicating a decrease with increasing stand age. Laboratory DOC sorption studies showed that the null-point DOC concentration fell from values of 15 to 60 mg DOC L-¹ at 0 to 5 cm to <15 mg DOC L-¹ at 50 cm. Specific ultraviolet light absorption at 254 nm (SUVA₂₅₄) increased from precipitation and throughfall to a maximum in forest floor and decreased with mineral soil depth. No age-related pattern was observed for SUVA₂₅₄ values. DOC concentration in forest floor soil solutions showed a positive exponential relationship with soil temperature, and a negative exponential relationship with soil moisture at all four sites. Understanding the changes and controls of DOC concentrations, chemistry, and fluxes at various stages of forest stand development is necessary to estimate and predict DOC dynamics on a regional landscape level and to evaluate the effect of land-use change.
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