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Biogeochemistry

, Volume 101, Issue 1–3, pp 197–209 | Cite as

Soil carbon and litter development along a reconstructed biodiverse forest chronosequence of South-Western Australia

  • S. J. George
  • R. N. Kelly
  • P. F. Greenwood
  • M. Tibbett
Article

Abstract

Soil organic matter (SOM) increases with time as landscape is restored. Studying SOM development along restored forest chronosequences would be useful in clarifying some of the uncertainties in quantifying C turnover rates with respect to forest clearance and ensuing restoration. The development of soil organic matter in the mineral soils was studied at four depths in a 16-year-old restored jarrah forest chronosequence. The size-separated SOM fractionation along with δ13C isotopic shift was utilised to resolve the soil C temporal and spatial changes with developing vegetation. The restored forest chronosequence revealed several important insights into how soil C is developing with age. Litter accumulation outpaced the native forest levels in 12 years after restoration. The surface soils, in general, showed increase in total C with age, but this trend was not clearly observed at lower depths. C accumulation was observed with increasing restoration age in all three SOM size-fractions in the surface 0–2 cm depth. These biodiverse forests show a trend towards accumulating C in recalcitrant stable forms, but only in the surface 0–2 cm mineral soil. A significant reverse trend was observed for the moderately labile SOM fraction for lower depths with increasing restoration age. Correlating the soil δ13C with total C concentration revealed the re-establishment of the isotopically depleted labile to enriched refractory C continuum with soil depth for the older restored sites. This implied that from a pedogenic perspective, the restored soils are developing towards the original native soil carbon profile.

Keywords

Jarrah forest Stable isotope Nitrogen Bauxite mining Rehabilitation Fractionation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was made possible by the support of the Australian Research Council’s Linkage grant partner BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina. We thank Tim Morald, Trudy Worthington, Kosta Volchanski, Gary Cass, Mike Smirk, Darryl Roberts, and Doug Ford at the University of Western Australia and Sue Wang from Curtin University for their assistance with field work and lab analysis; Brad Stokes and Steve Vlahos (BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina) for their support with organising the field work.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. George
    • 1
  • R. N. Kelly
    • 1
  • P. F. Greenwood
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Tibbett
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Land Rehabilitation, School of Earth and EnvironmentThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.John De Laeter Mass Spectrometry and WA Biogeochemitry Centres (M090)The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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