SOM

Ecosystem Development and Plant Succession on Landslides in the Caribbean

Ecosystem Development and Plant Succession on Landslides in the Caribbean
Lawrence R. Walker, Daniel J. Zarin, Ned Fetcher, Randall W. Myster and Arthur H. Johnson
Biotropica
Vol. 28, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Long Term Responses of Caribbean Ecosystems to Disturbances (Dec., 1996), pp. 566-576

Abstract: 
Landslides are common in mountainous regions of the Caribbean and are triggered by heavy rains and earthquakes, and often occur in association with human disturbances (e.g., roads). Spatially heterogeneous removal of both substrate and vegetation is responsible for a variety of patterns of ecosystem development and plant successional trajectories within Caribbean landslides. Soil nutrient pools in exposed mineral soils reach levels comparable to mature forest soils within 55 yr but soil organic matter recovers more slowly. Plant colonization of landslides depends on the availability of propagules and suitable sites for germination, soil stability, and the presence of residual or newly deposited soil organic matter and associated nutrients. Once initial colonization occurs, the rate and trajectory of plant succession on landslides is strongly affected by plant/plant interactions. We present two conceptual models of landslide succession that summarize the major processes and pathways of ecosystem development and plant succession on landslides. Additional work is needed to characterize interactions between spatially heterogeneous zones, controls over soil development, impacts of key plant species, and the role of animals on Caribbean landslides.

carbon isotope characterization of vegetation and soil organic matter in subtropical forests in luquillo, puerto rico

Carbon Isotope Characterization of Vegetation and Soil Organic Matter in Subtropical Forests in Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Joseph C. von Fischer and Larry L. Tieszen
Biotropica
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 138-148

Abstract: 
We examined natural abundances of 13C in vegetation and soil organic matter (SOM) of subtropical wet and rain forests to characterize the isotopic enrichment through decomposition that has been reported for temperate forests. Soil cores and vegetative samples from the decomposition continuum (leaves, new litter, old litter, wood, and roots) were taken from each of four forest types in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. SOM δ13C was enriched 1.6% relative to aboveground litter. We found no further enrichment within the soil profile. The carbon isotope ratios of vegetation varied among forests, ranging from -28.2% in the Colorado forest to -26.9% in the Palm forest. Isotope ratios of SOM differed between forests primarily in the top 20 cm where the Colorado forest was again most negative at -28.0%, and the Palm forest was most positive at -26.5%. The isotopic differences between forests are likely attributable to differences in light regimes due to canopy density variation, soil moisture regimes, and/or recycling of CO2. Our data suggest that recalcitrant SOM is not derived directly from plant lignin since plant lignin is even more 13C depleted than the bulk vegetation. We hypothesize that the anthropogenic isotopic depletion of atmospheric CO2 (ca 1.5% in the last 150 years) accounts for some of the enrichment observed in the SOM relative to the more modern vegetation in this study and others. This study also supports other observations that under wet or anaerobic soil environments there is no isotopic enrichment during decomposition or with depth in the active profile.

MODELING SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL PATTERNS OF SOIL ORGANIC CARBON IN TWO MONTANE LANDSCAPES: THE NORTHERN HARDWOODS, VERMONT AND THE TABONUCO FOREST, PUERTO RICO

Kristofer Dee Johnson, "Modeling spatial and temporal patterns of soil organic carbon in two montane landscapes: The northern hardwoods, Vermont and the tabonuco forest, Puerto Rico" (January 1, 2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3328590.

Abstract: 
Forest soils contribute to a significant portion of the world’s carbon flux due to both natural and anthropogenic changes. In terms of human management of carbon pools, forest soil organic matter (SOM) is important because it potentially stores carbon more permanently than living vegetation. Yet, this potential is poorly understood or managed for because of the difficulty in measuring changes in SOM pools over time and space. Modeling combined with intensive field sampling can help overcome these limitations because it extracts from empirically observed relationships to account for the components of SOM formation (topography, time, parent material, organisms and climate[fns2]). This study utilizes intensive field data, statistical models and process-based ecosystem models to investigate the spatial distribution and dynamics of soil organic carbon dynamics in two contrasting ecosystems – the northern hardwood forest in the Green Mountains, VT and the tabonuco forest in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, PR. In both forests landscape position emerged as the dominate factor in explaining SOM distribution. In Vermont, additional variation was explained by aspect and slope and in Puerto Rico additional variation was explained by landscape factors interrelated to soil drainage. Process-based modeling proved to be a useful management and experimental tool in cases were empirical approaches were impractical for both forests. In Vermont, three ecosystem models demonstrated a substantial reduction of soil organic carbon and harvestable biomass due to the removal of woody carbon by logging after 240 years of rotations. In Puerto Rico, the Century model showed that changes in litter quality and quantity were not likely responsible in explaining landscape level SOM differences. Overall, well drained soils located in colder climates stored the highest SOM whereas poorly drained and highly disturbed soils in steep humid climates stored the lowest SOM. This research demonstrates that although SOM amounts are highly variable over many spatial and temporal scales, intuitive relationships are borne out with modeling tools and by careful investigation of the five soil forming factors. Results also raise questions about how these ecosystems and their SOM pools may change in response to changing climate conditions of the future.
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