• SOM;
  • DOC;
  • ANPP;
  • complex terrain;
  • forest ecosystem

[1] Factors influencing soil organic matter (SOM) stabilization and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) content in complex terrain, where vegetation, climate, and topography vary over the scale of a few meters, are not well understood. We examined the spatial correlations of lidar and geographic information system-derived landscape topography, empirically measured soil characteristics, and current and historical vegetation composition and structure versus SOM fractions and DOC pools and leaching on a small catchment (WS1) in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, located in the western Cascades Range of Oregon, USA. We predicted that aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP), litter fall, and nitrogen mineralization would be positively correlated with SOM, DOC, and carbon (C) content of the soil based on the principle that increased C inputs cause C stores in and losses from in the soil. We expected that in tandem, certain microtopographical and microclimatic characteristics might be associated with elevated C inputs and correspondingly, soil C stores and losses. We confirmed that on this site, positive relationships exist between ANPP, C inputs (litter fall), and losses (exportable DOC), but we did not find that these relationships between ANPP, inputs, and exports were translated to SOM stores (mg C/g soil), C content of the soil (% C/g soil), or DOC pools (determined with salt and water extractions). We suggest that the biogeochemical processes controlling C storage and lability in soil may relate to longer-term variability in aboveground inputs that result from a heterogeneous and evolving forest stand.