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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tree Species of Moist Tropical Forests Differ in Their Detrital Biochemistry and Effects on Soil Carbon Dynamics


Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2005
Publication Date: August 7, 2005
Citation: Russell, A.E., Olk, D.C., Marek, R.F. 2005. Tree species of moist tropical forests differ in their detrital biochemistry and effects on soil carbon dynamics. In: Ecological Society of America Proceedings. Ecological Society of America 90th Annual Meeting, Aug. 7-12, 2005, Montreal, Canada. p. 554.

Technical Abstract: In 15-yr-old experimental plantations at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica, six tree species differed in their effects on soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration and soil pH. In initial studies to identify underlying mechanisms, we measured several biochemical attributes of fine roots, senesced leaves and soil. Tissues of the species differed in lignin content and in three lignin-derived families of phenols, the cinnamyls, syringyls and vanillins. Amounts of cinnamyls and syringyls in soil differed significantly among species, whereas vanillins did not. The ratio of carboxylic acid to aldehyde compounds within the vanillin and the syringyl families represent their degree of decomposition. For syringyls, this ratio was significantly higher in soils under Pinus patula than under Pentaclethra macroloba, Hyeronima alchorneoides, Virola koschnyi, Vochysia ferruginea, and V. guatemalensis. For the vanillins, this ratio varied, with Virola < Vochysia guatemalensis, V. ferruginea < Hyeronima, Pentaclethra < Pinus. If cumulative quantities of organic matter inputs were similar under all species, then these biochemical data indicate that detritus is more decomposed under Pinus. Decomposition of SOC was measured independently through potential mineralization of labile C determined from 30-day laboratory incubations. The CO2-C released was lower under Virola, Pinus, and Pentaclethra compared with the other species. With the exception of Virola, these data are consistent with the biochemical data that indicated that SOC under Pinus and Pentaclethra was more decomposed. We modeled with CENTURY to integrate data regarding organic matter inputs, detrital biochemistry, and potential mineralization, and to provide insights into plant-mediated controls over soil carbon sequestration.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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