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Rita Razauskaite, PhD studentship, University of Aberdeen (2015-2018)
Forest soils contain large amounts of carbon, which can be lost through forest operations or changing environmental conditions. As forests are perennial with infrequent disturbance, soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation differs from highly disturbed land uses, with significant accumulation occurring in deeper soil horizons (subsoil). This thesis investigated changes in SOC in both topsoil and subsoil under the main native broadleaved and coniferous species in the UK, oak and Scots pine.
The overall results showed that prolonging forest rotations could allow more carbon (C) to be sequestered in soils. RothC model simulations of pine forests suggested that the lowest soil C stocks occur, not immediately after harvesting, but closer to the middle of the rotation. This shows the importance of including 40 to 50 year old stands in sampling campaigns to capture the magnitude of these losses. Model SOC pools were compared to measurable fractions for the 220 year old oak stands. Discrepancy between measured fractions and simulated pools suggested a significant difference in soil processes in the topsoil and subsoil. Current modelling approaches might not be sufficient to represent factors that control SOC dynamics with depth.
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