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Use of $$^{14}$$C to study soil carbon cycling in beech forest

Atarashi-Andoh, Mariko ; Koarashi, Jun  ; Ishizuka, Shigehiro*; Hirai, Keizo*

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a complex of materials with different ages. An understanding of soil carbon cycling and thereby predicting its response to climatic change requires knowledge of both the inventory of carbon and the turnover times of SOC. In this study, chemical and density fractionation were examined to separate the organic matter collected from a beech forest into components with different turnover times. Mean residence time (MRT) for each fraction was estimated from its radiocarbon isotope ratio ($$Delta$$$$^{14}$$C) using the $$Delta$$$$^{14}$$C-MRT model. The results show that fractions separated by chemical fractionation with acid-alkali treatment have clearer difference in the isotope ratio than that by density fractionation. This means chemical fractionation is more adequate to estimate MRT composition for the beech forest soil. We also observed differences in the inventory and MRTs of carbon using chemical fractionation for two forests with different vegetation and the mean temperature. The results show that the difference in decomposed carbon flux from these two forests is attributed to the difference in MRT composition in each forest.

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