Dissolved Organic Matter concentration and composition in the forests and streams of Olympic National Park, WA

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Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and dissolved organic matter (DOM) character were investigated in soil water (15 and 40 cm) and streams at eleven sites in Olympic National Park. In addition, the effect of added nitrogen on soil water DOM concentration and composition was tested. Forested plots covering a gradient of precipitation, climate, slope, and aspect in Olympic National Park were fertilized with the addition of 20, 10 and zero (control) kg urea-N ha-1 y-1. Seven sites had the two different fertilizer treatments and control plots, while the additional four sites had no fertilizer treatments. Soil water DOC concentrations ranged from 0.5 mg C/L to 54.1 mg C/L, with an average value of 14.1 mg C/L. Streams had low DOC concentrations ranging from 0.2 mg C/L to 4.4 mg C/L, with an average value of 1.2 mg C/L. DOM composition was examined with regard to molar ratios, H:C, O:C and N:C, index of unsaturation, average carbon oxidation state, and specific absorbance. Fertilizer had no consistent effect on either DOM concentration or composition across the study sites. Soil depth influenced both DOM concentration and composition. Shallow soil water DOM had greater concentrations, higher specific absorbance, a higher degree of unsaturation, and had lower molar ratios compared to deep soil water samples. Overall, changes in DOM stoichiometry and specific absorbance as a function of soil depth were consistent despite the diversity of the forested study sites sampled.

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