331-4 Coupled Changes in Soil Aggregate and Carbon Dynamics Due Drought Induced Desiccation.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017: 8:45 AM
Marriott Tampa Waterside, Grand Ballroom I and J
The biogeochemical and hydrological responses of the soil system to extreme drought are coupled mainly through the effect of drying on soil hydrological and structural properties, and biological processes of decomposition and plant productivity. However, to date, very few studies have considered these coupled responses in assessment of how climate controls soil carbon dynamics. The cyclic drawdown/recharge of the water table that exists in most peatland systems impose important controls on organic matter storage and decomposition as well as soil physical properties. In order to better understand how high elevation peatlands will respond to increasingly dry years, we incubated meadow soils collected along a hydrologic gradient at 5 different water potentials and measured the CO2 flux at intervals for over one year to determine how desiccation of meadow soils (from the Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area at the crest of the Sierra Nevada) influences gaseous fluxes of C, as well as aggregation of the organic-rich soils and distribution of the soil C in different physical pools (macro- vs. micro-aggregate, and silt+ clay fractions). We found that the cumulative carbon mineralization was greatest at the highest (0.1 bar) and lowest (4 bar) water potential, across all regions of the meadow, indicating the presence of two separate pools of labile carbon that can be accessed only after a threshold of drying is reached in the soil. We also observe important changes associated with aggregate size distributions and fraction of total carbon distributed in three distinct pools.