As above, so below? Influence of overstory-induced acidification on the soil carbon sequestration dynamics in the Gaume forest.

Ellen Desie
In deze scriptie werd de omvorming van oud bos naar monoculturen van Fijnspar geëvalueerd. Meer specifiek werd het effect op de koolstofvastlegging en stabiliteit onder dergelijke monoculturen onderzocht.

De donkere kant van het bos: hoe beïnvloedt een omvorming naar Fijnspar de koolstofvastlegging in het ondergrondse bosecosysteem van de Gaume?

Bosbodems hebben het potentieel om te fungeren als een natuurlijke opslagplaats voor atmosferische koolstof, meer bepaald CO2. Bijgevolg kwam koolstofopslag in bosbodems op de politieke agenda als een mogelijke strategie voor mitigatie van de klimaatverandering. Naast het opslaan en vasthouden van – voor ons ongewenste – CO2 heeft deze koolstofopslag ook verschillende positieve effecten op de bodemvruchtbaarheid. Willen we deze strategieën verder optimaliseren is een beter begrip van de koolstofopslag en stabiliteit in functie van bosbeheer essentieel. Het effect van boomsoortkeuze, een belangrijk onderdeel van bosbeheer, op de koolstofvastlegging in het ondergrondse ecosysteem is specifiek van belang in dit onderzoek.

Voor houtproductiedoeleinden werd er in het verleden vaak gekozen voor een omvorming van oud bos naar monoculturen van coniferen. Deze coniferen werden geprefereerd omwille van hun snellere groei en degelijke houtkwaliteit. Momenteel bestaat het bosareaal van Wallonië voor 37% uit Fijnspar, een aanzienlijk percentage wetende dat de soort er natuurlijk niet zou voorkomen. Onderzoek heeft echter aangetoond dat dergelijke monoculturen bodemverzuring versnellen terwijl hun effect op de kwantiteit en kwaliteit van organische koolstof in de bodem nog ongekend is. In dit onderzoek werd dan ook gepoogd om het effect van een omvorming van oud bos naar monoculturen van Fijnspar (Picea abies) te evalueren.

Deze studie werd uitgevoerd met behulp van een unieke "twin-plot" set-up in de Gaume-streek (zuid België). Uit aangrenzende stukken loof- en sparbos, de twin-plots, werden bodemstalen genomen die vervolgens werden geanalyseerd in het lab. Met behulp van een koolstof-fractionering werden de bodemstalen gesplitst over twee labiele en twee stabiele koolstoffracties. De verdeling van koolstof over deze fracties is een belangrijke indicator voor de stabiliteit van organische koolstof in de bodem. Omdat de twin-plots verspreid liggen over een gebied met twee geologische substraten bevat de studiesite heel wat natuurlijke variatie.  Aan de hand van gemeten bodemeigenschappen, bodemfauna en de geologische kaart van de regio werd deze natuurlijke variatie beschreven. Zo kan met behulp van een multi-factoranalyse een onderscheid gemaakt worden tussen het boomsoorteneffect en het omgevingseffect.

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Figuur 1: Foto's van een twin-plot: een plot met gemengd loofhout (links) en een plot met monocultuur van Fijnspar (rechts).

Uit de analyses blijkt dat de meeste variatie kan verklaard worden door geologie en pH, waarvan pH sterk de omvorming-geïnduceerde-verzuring weergeeft. In dit onderzoek zijn aanwijzingen gevonden dat twee alternatieve stabiele toestanden in het ondergrondse ecosysteem bestaan voor een specifieke set van condities in geologie en klimaat. Met andere woorden kan men voor twee bossen met eenzelfde geologie en klimaat toch twee verschillende toestanden waarnemen: een rijk en complex systeem met veel bodemfauna, waarin de bodemprocessen worden gedomineerd door basen of een meer primair systeem met lagere kwaliteit van humus, minder bodemfauna en bodemprocessen gedomineerd door het toxische aluminium en ijzer.  In dit conceptueel model fungeert de omvorming naar Fijnspar als perturbatie die een verschuiving veroorzaakt van het basen-gedomineerde bodem domein naar het ijzer-aluminium-gedomineerde bodem domein. Plots met de beste kwaliteit in geologie vervallen naar de lagere alternatieve toestand wanneer hun loofhout wordt vervangen door Fijnspar. Wanneer ijzer en aluminium de bodemprocessen domineren, verdwijnen basische kationen – de nutriënten nodig voor groei – uit de bodem en treedt er bij verschillende soorten aluminium toxiciteit op. Ook de terugval in variabiliteit van bodemeigenschappen gemeten in het lab, werd veroorzaakt door de omvorming en komt overeen met de afgenomen biodiversiteit, eerder gerapporteerd, bij monoculturen van Fijnspar.

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Figuur 2: Schematische weergave van alternatieve stabiele toestanden in de staat van het ecosysteem voor bepaalde condities (van geologie en klimaat). Een omvorming naar Fijnspar duwt het systeem over de grens naar een armer bosecosysteem.

Omdat de decompositie vertraagt door de bodemverzuring kan er onder Fijnspar meer koolstof accumuleren. Maar de studie toont aan dat hoewel een omvorming naar Fijnspar de totale koolstofopslag verhoogt, de extra koolstof wordt opgeslagen in meer labiele pools. Vandaar dat we kunnen besluiten dat de koolstof-stabiliteit in de toplaag afneemt. Dit suggereert dat door de omvorming naar Fijnspar, een groter aandeel koolstof in de toplaag kwetsbaar wordt voor veranderingen van het klimaat en onder extreme omstandigheden bosbodems zelfs een emissiebron van CO2 kunnen worden.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
KULeuven Bio-ingenierswetenschappen - Landbeheer: bodem- en watersystemen
Publicatiejaar
2016
Promotor(en)
Bart Muys
Kernwoorden