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Soil Solution Chemistry In Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Contorta Ssp. Latifolia) Ecosystems, Southeastern Wyoming, USA

“Soil Solution Chemistry in Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Contorta ssp. Latifolia) Ecosystems, Southeastern Wyoming, USA” Biogeochemistry 6 (1988): 91-118.

Fahey, Timothy J., and Joseph B. Yavitt

Dept. of Natural Resources, Coenell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; Dept. of Biological Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506,USA

Key words: acidity, bicarbonate, forest  soils, leaching, metal cations, nutrient cycling, organic anions, sulfate

Abstract. Concentrations of the principal inorganic and organic solutes in the soil root-zone were measured in six contrasting lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta ssp. Latifolia) forest ecosystems for five years (1979 – 1983). Consistent temporal changes in the principal inorganic solutes (Ca, Mg, K, Na, SO4, Cl) were observed in all the forest stands and years of the study: high concentrations at the initiation of nowmelt in the spring were followed by rapid declines to rather constant values in the mid to late stages of snowmelt. Except for K, concentrations of theses solutes differed significantly between sites and between years. Sulfate was the principal mobile anions also were important.

The pH root-zone solutions was relatively high (6.0), did not change significantly as snowmelt proceeded, and was significantly lower in high-clay soils. No consistent trends in bicarbonate alkalinity were observed and soil atmosphere CDO2, concentrations were only about 10 to 20 times above atmospheric levels, peaking at the end of the snowmelt interval. Concurrent changes in the concentrations of dissolved organic carbon, non-volatile acid-neutralizing capacity, and total Al and Fe indicated that these soil-forming metals were transported vertically in the soil as organic complexes. Precipitation of these complexes was more rapid and more complete in the soils with high clay content than in the coarser soils. Moreover, organic anions comprised up to 30% of the total anionic charge in the coarse-textured soils but less than 10% in the fine soils.

Lttle seasonal or spatial variation of inorganic N and P concentrations was observed in root-zone solutions, probably as a result og high biotic demand for these limiting nutrients. Flux of N and P in these ecosystems was predominately via organic forms so that losses of these nutrients  was strongly linked to the mobility of dissolved organic carbon. However, a two-fold increase in the organic N:P and C:P ratios was observed during passage of melt water from the forest floor to mineral soil, evidence of more rapid mineralization of organic P.


The soil serves the important functions of providing nutrient  elements available for root uptake, mediating “weathering” reactions of the soil solid phase, and transporting solutes beneath the tree rooting zone to groundwater and streams.