Carbon isotopes of water-extractable organic carbon in a depth profile of forest soil imply a dynamic relationship with soil carbon

Authors

  • T. Nakanishi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Group for Environmental Science, Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Ibaraki 319-1195, Japan
      T. Nakanishi. E-mail: nakanishi.takahiro@jaea.go.jp
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  • M. Atarashi-Andoh,

    1. Research Group for Environmental Science, Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Ibaraki 319-1195, Japan
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  • J. Koarashi,

    1. Research Group for Environmental Science, Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Ibaraki 319-1195, Japan
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  • Y. Saito-Kokubu,

    1. Neotectonics Research Group, Geological Isolation Research and Development Directorate, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Gifu 509-5102, Japan
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  • K. Hirai

    1. Tohoku Research Centre, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Iwate 020-0123, Japan
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T. Nakanishi. E-mail: nakanishi.takahiro@jaea.go.jp

Abstract

Although considerable research has been conducted on the importance of recent litter compared with older soil organic matter as sources of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in forest soils, a more thorough evaluation of this mechanism is necessary. We studied water-extractable organic carbon (WEOC) in a soil profile under a cool-temperate beech forest by analysing the isotopic composition (13C and 14C) of WEOC and its fractions after separation on a DAX-8 resin. With depth, WEOC became more enriched in 13C, which reflects the increasing proportion of the hydrophilic, isotopically heavier fraction. The 14C content in WEOC and its fractions decreased with depth, paralleling the 14C trend in soil organic matter (SOM). These results indicate a dynamic equilibrium of WEOC and soil organic carbon. The dominant process maintaining the WEOC pool in the mineral soil appears to be the microbial release of water-soluble compounds from the SOM, which alters in time-scales of decades to centuries.

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