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Forests 2015, 6(3), 769-793; doi:10.3390/f6030769

Organic Carbon Accumulation in Topsoil Following Afforestation with Willow: Emphasis on Leaf Litter Decomposition and Soil Organic Matter Quality

1
Centre d'Étude de la Forêt, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
2
Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Jardin Botanique de Montréal, 4101 Sherbrooke East, Montréal, QC H1X 2B2, Canada
3
NanoQam, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
4
UER science et technologie, Université du Québec, 5800 rue Saint-Denis, Bureau 1105, Montréal, QC H2S 3L5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Robert Harrison and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 11 December 2014 / Revised: 9 February 2015 / Accepted: 12 March 2015 / Published: 19 March 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1097 KB, uploaded 19 March 2015]   |  

Abstract

Short-rotation intensive cultures (SRICs) of willows can potentially sequester carbon (C) in soil. However, there is limited information regarding the factors governing soil organic C (Corg) accumulation following afforestation. The objectives of this study were to: (i) determine whether willow leads to Corg accumulation in the topsoil (0–10 cm) two to six years after establishment in five SRICs located along a large climatic/productivity gradient in southern Quebec, and (ii) assess the influence of leaf litter decomposition and soil organic matter (OM) quality on Corg accumulation in the topsoil. Topsoil Corg concentrations and pools under SRICs were, on average, 25% greater than reference fields, and alkyls concentrations were higher under SRICs. On an annualized basis, Corg accumulation rates in the topsoil varied between 0.4 and 4.5 Mg ha−1 yr−1. Estimated annual litterfall C fluxes were in the same order of magnitude, suggesting that SRICs can accumulate Corg in the topsoil during early years due to high growth rates. Leaf litter decomposition was also related to Corg accumulation rates in the topsoil. It was positively correlated to growing season length, degree-days, and growing season average air and topsoil temperature (r > 0.70), and negatively correlated to topsoil volumetric water content (r = −0.55). Leaf litter decomposition likely occurred more quickly than that of plants in reference fields, and as it progressed, OM became more decay resistant, more stable and accumulated as Corg in the topsoil. View Full-Text
Keywords: Litterfall C fluxes; Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Pedoclimatic gradient; Salix miyabeana (SX67); Short-rotation intensive culture; Soil organic matter recalcitrance; Soil microclimate Litterfall C fluxes; Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Pedoclimatic gradient; Salix miyabeana (SX67); Short-rotation intensive culture; Soil organic matter recalcitrance; Soil microclimate
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lafleur, B.; Labrecque, M.; Arnold, A.A.; Bélanger, N. Organic Carbon Accumulation in Topsoil Following Afforestation with Willow: Emphasis on Leaf Litter Decomposition and Soil Organic Matter Quality. Forests 2015, 6, 769-793.

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