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Effect of fire disturbance on active organic carbon of Larix gmelinii forest soil in Northeastern China

ABSTRACT

Abstract Active organic carbon in soil has high biological activity and plays an important role in forest soil ecosystem structure and function. Fire is an important disturbance factor in many forest ecosystems and occurs frequently over forested soils. However, little is known about its impact on soil active organic carbon (SAOC), which is important to the global carbon cycle. To investigate this issue, we studied the active organic carbon in soils in the Larix gmelinii forests of the Da Xing’an Mountains (Greater Xing’an Mountains) in Northeastern China, which had been burned by high-intensity wildfire in two different years (2002 and 2008). Soil samples were collected monthly during the 2011 growing season from over 12 sample plots in burned and unburned soils and then analyzed to examine the dynamics of SAOC. Our results showed that active organic carbon content changed greatly after fire disturbance in relation to the amount of time elapsed since the fire. There were significant differences in microbial biomass carbon, dissolved organic carbon, light fraction organic carbon, particulate organic carbon between burned and unburned sample plots in 2002 and 2008 (p < 0.05). The correlations between active organic carbon and environmental factors such as water content, pH value and temperature of soils, and correlations between each carbon component changed after fire disturbance, also in relation to time since the fire. The seasonal dynamics of SAOC in all of the sample plots changed after fire disturbance; peak values appeared during the growing season. In plots burned in 2002 and 2008, the magnitude and occurrence time of peak values differed. Our findings provide basic data regarding the impact of fire disturbance on boreal forest soil-carbon cycling, carbon-balance mechanisms, and carbon contributions of forest ecosystem after wildfire disturbance.AbstractActive organic carbon in soil has high biological activity and plays an important role in forest soil ecosystem structure and function. Fire is an important disturbance factor in many forest ecosystems and occurs frequently over forested soils. However, little is known about its impact on soil active organic carbon (SAOC), which is important to the global carbon cycle. To investigate this issue, we studied the active organic carbon in soils in the Larix gmelinii forests of the Da Xing’an Mountains (Greater Xing’an Mountains) in Northeastern China, which had been burned by high-intensity wildfire in two different years (2002 and 2008). Soil samples were collected monthly during the 2011 growing season from over 12 sample plots in burned and unburned soils and then analyzed to examine the dynamics of SAOC. Our results showed that active organic carbon content changed greatly after fire disturbance in relation to the amount of time elapsed since the fire. There were significant differences in microbial biomass carbon, dissolved organic carbon, light fraction organic carbon, particulate organic carbon between burned and unburned sample plots in 2002 and 2008 (p < 0.05). The correlations between active organic carbon and environmental factors such as water content, pH value and temperature of soils, and correlations between each carbon component changed after fire disturbance, also in relation to time since the fire. The seasonal dynamics of SAOC in all of the sample plots changed after fire disturbance; peak values appeared during the growing season. In plots burned in 2002 and 2008, the magnitude and occurrence time of peak values differed. Our findings provide basic data regarding the impact of fire disturbance on boreal forest soil-carbon cycling, carbon-balance mechanisms, and carbon contributions of forest ecosystem after wildfire disturbance.Larix gmeliniip