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Barros N.;Fernandez I.;Byrne K.A.;Jovani-Sancho A.J.;Ros-Mangriñan E.;Hansen L.D.
Thermodynamics of soil organic matter decomposition in semi-natural oak (Quercus) woodland in southwest Ireland
3 ()
Optional Fields
calorespirometry oak organic matter soil thermal analysis thermodynamics
© 2020 Nordic Society Oikos. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd The evolution of soil terrestrial ecosystems is a subject with difficulties to define their maturity and evolutionary state. In the last century, thermodynamics was one of the options considered by ecologists for that goal. Difficulties in quantifying the thermodynamic parameters needed by the evolutionary theories caused that this subject has been practically locked since the end of the last century. Application of thermodynamics needs reactions and one of the main reactions in soil ecosystems are those involved in the decomposition of the soil organic matter. This paper aims to provide an initial step to study those reactions from a thermodynamic perspective. With that goal in mind, thermal analysis and isothermal calorespirometric measurements were made on soil samples collected at three depths in semi-natural oak woodlands at three different sites in southwest Ireland. It is assumed that the organic matter evolves from a less to a higher mature state as soil depth increases. The maturity state could be chemically defined by the redox state. The proposed methods yield the enthalpy change, Gibbs energy change and entropy change for the microbial catabolism and combustion reactions of the soil organic matter. The degree of reduction was calculated by the enthalpy changes. Results show the soil organic matter becomes more reduced from the soil organic surface to mineral soils. The top layer is characterized by high carbon content, organic materials with low energy content per Cmole, and fast biodegradation rates. Mineral soils are characterized by low carbon content, organic materials with high energy content per Cmole, and slow biodegradation rates. Values obtained for the entropy change were sensitive to these differences among the different soil layers. These results contribute to unlock the thermodynamics of the soil reactions and to develop the bioenergetics of soil ecosystems.
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