The vertical transport of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is an important determinant of carbon distribution across a soil profile. The transport of DOC down a soil profile can be largely influenced by incoming DOC and soil organic carbon (SOC) levels, which insulate DOC from adsorption processes regulated by soil texture and Fe/Al mineralogy.
Context Uncertainties about how soil properties affect DOC transport through the soil profile require study because soils can differ strongly with respect to texture or Fe/Al mineralogy and yet retain similar quantities of DOC.
Aims This study aimed to assess the role of incoming DOC and native SOC in regulating DOC migration in soils and investigate the contribution of DOC movement to SOC allocation.
Methods We leached a standard DOC solution extracted from Castanopsis carlesii litter through two distinct soil types, using two leaching strategies: single leaching and sequential leaching. The two soil types under a natural Castanopsis carlesii (Hemsl.) Hayata forest and a natural Castanopsis fargesii Franch. forest, respectively, differ strongly with respect to soil texture, Fe/Al oxide abundances, and SOC nature.
Results With single leaching, where each of six soil layers making up an entire 0–100-cm soil depth profile received single doses of standard DOC solution, deeper soil layers retained more DOC than upper soil layers, with native SOC largely masking the effects of soil texture and Fe/Al mineralogy on DOC migration. Following sequential leaching, where a sixfold larger amount of standard DOC solution sequentially percolated through the six soil layers, the upper soil layers generally retained more DOC than deeper layers. Nevertheless, in sequential leaching, desorption-induced transfer of carbon from upper soil layers to deeper soil layers resulted in greater total carbon retention than in single leaching.
Conclusion Forest subsoils (40–100 cm) are well below C saturation, but DOC vertical movement from top soils only transfers limited organic carbon to them. However, DOC vertical movement may greatly alter SOC allocation along the top soil profile (0–40 cm), with part of outer sphere native SOC displaced by incoming DOC and migrating downwards, which is a natural way to preserve SOC.
Dissolved organic carbon, Adsorption, Desorption, Soil organic carbon allocation
Si, Y., Xiong, L., Chen, Y. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 79.
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The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the figshare repository (Si 2018; https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.6632942).