Preston, C. M., Norris, C. E., Bernard, G. M., Beilman, D. W., Quideau, S. A. and Wasylishen, R. E. 2014. Carbon and nitrogen in the silt-size fraction and its HCl-hydrolysis residues from coarse-textured Canadian boreal forest soils. Can. J. Soil Sci. 94: 157-168. Improving the capacity to predict changes in soil carbon (C) stocks in the Canadian boreal forest requires better information on the characteristics and age of soil carbon, especially more slowly cycling C in mineral soil. We characterized C in the silt-size fraction, as representative of C stabilized by mineral association, previously isolated in a study of soil profiles of four sandy boreal jack pine sites. Silt-size fraction accounted for 13-31% of the total soil C and 12-51% of the total soil N content. Solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed that silt C was mostly dominated by alkyl and O,N-alkyl C, with low proportions of aryl C in most samples. Thus, despite the importance of fire in this region, there was little evidence of storage of pyrogenic C. We used HCl hydrolysis to isolate the oldest C within the silt-size fraction. Consistent with previous studies, this procedure removed 21-74% of C and 74-93% of N, leaving residues composed mainly of alkyl and aryl C. However, it failed to isolate consistently old C; 11 out of 16 samples had recent 14C ages (fraction of modern 14C > 1), although C-horizon samples were older, with Δ14C from -17 to -476‰. Our results indicate relatively young ages for C associated with the silt-size fractions in these sites, for which mineral soil C storage may be primarily limited by good drainage and coarse soil texture, exacerbated by losses due to periodic wildfire.
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Vol. 94 • No. 2