Dissolved organic matter dynamics in reference and calcium silicate-treated watersheds at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH, USA

TitleDissolved organic matter dynamics in reference and calcium silicate-treated watersheds at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH, USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsLoRusso, NA, Bailey, SW, Zeng, T, Montesdeoca, M, Driscoll, CT
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
ISBN Number2169-8961
Keywordsacidic deposition recovery, carbon cycling, CN, Dissolved organic matter, fluorescence, soil water

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) can serve as an indicator of watershed carbon cycling, and links terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems. The extent DOM is microbially processed before it enters aquatic ecosystems is expected to change with soil depth and landscape position, and as some research suggests, in response to recovery from chronic acidification. Here we examined DOM within freely-flowing soil pore water and stream water collected from reference and calcium silicate-treated watersheds at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire, USA. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen (DON) concentrations as well as, absorption and fluorescence properties were analyzed to assess patterns in DOM quantity and quality. Parallel factor analysis was used to identify three predominant fluorescing DOM components (C1-3). All three components were terrestrial in origin, however C3 exhibited spectral properties previously linked to the microbial processing of humic material. Distinct horizonal patterns emerged between genetic soil horizons. DOC quantity decreased with soil depth, so too did, the plant derived lignin-like fraction (C2), while the C3 fraction increased. High-elevation coniferous zones with shallow bedrock contributed to higher DOC concentrations in soil and stream water, while high and low-elevation mineral soils exhibited greater C3 fractions and fluorescence indicators of microbially processed DOM. This pattern suggests these mineral soils are important organic carbon sinks, due to greater rates of microbial DOM processing. DOC in forest floor solutions, C3 fractions, and indicators of smaller molecular size (E2:E3) were all higher in the calcium silicate -treated watershed, suggesting greater microbial processing of DOM.