Teresa Gómez de la Bárcena

Research Scientist

(+47) 405 56 025

Ås H7

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 7, 1433 Ås


Tree species change has been suggested as one of the government policies to mitigate climate change in Nor-way with the aim to increase the annual uptake of CO2 and the long-term storage of carbon (C) in forests. The strategy includes replacing native, deciduous species with fast-growing species, mainly Norway spruce. A shift in tree species is expected to affect the pools and fluxes of C in the stand as well as the microbial community. As part of the BalanC project, we assess C storage related to shift in tree species cover in western Norway and whether a corresponding shift in soil microbial communities are happening. The study aim at integrating results on soil respiration, C mineralization, soil stability, diversity of bacteria, fungi and micro-eukaryotes, soil nutrient pools, litter inputs and edaphic factors at the stand level in order to identify key drivers for changes in the soil C stocks. Fifteen paired plots of native birch and planted Norway spruce at five locations were sampled. Prelimi-nary results suggests a redistribution of C from the mineral soil to the forest floor in the spruce stands, with minor changes in the total soil C pools over the 45-60 years since the tree species change. The in situ soil respi-ration and heterothropic respiration, as well as C mineralization rates, were higher in birch than in spruce stands. Differences in C mineralization rates attenuate with depth between forest types. The microbial com-munities of the three organismal groups were all strongly structured along the vertical depth.

To document


Conversion from agriculture to forestry is considered a measure for mitigation of atmospheric CO2 but the impacts on soil C and N processes remain still unclear. We investigated heterotrophic respiration (RH), specific carbon mineralization (CMIN) and nitrogen mineralization (NMIN) in Norway spruce (Picea abies (Karst.) L.) and oak (Quercus robur L.) chronosequences on former cropland by laboratory incubation. The RH was estimated as the release of C per gram soil and CMIN as the release of C per gram of soil organic matter (SOM). Seven Norway spruce stands (16–44 years), eight oak stands (4–43 years), a cropland, a 35 years old permanent pasture and a 200-year-old oak-dominated forest were sampled (0–5 cm and 5–15 cm soil layers) in early spring. The SOM content gradually increased with stand age in 0–5 cm but remained the same in the 5–15 cm soil layer. The RH in the 0–5 cm layer gradually increased with time since afforestation in both tree species while there was no change in CMIN. In 5–15 cm, neither RH nor CMIN changed significantly after afforestation, but oak stands had significantly higher RH than Norway spruce. The NMIN and nitrification in 0–5 cm significantly increased with stand age and only nitrification was higher in oak. In 5–15 cm, only NMIN in oak increased with stand age, but both NMIN and nitrification were significantly higher in oak than spruce. Cropland RH, CMIN and NMIN rates were comparable to those found within the first decades of afforestation, whereas the 200-year-old forest and the pasture generally had RH and NMIN rates similar to the older chronosequence stands. We conclude that potential RH and soil N mineralization increased with time since afforestation and were tree species specific. Soil organic C stock gains observed in this area during the first 45 years after afforestation were not driven by decreased SOM decomposability, leaving increased litter C inputs as a more likely explanation. The lower CMIN in the 200-year-old forest suggests that future studies should include older forests to assess if the stability of C and the retention of N may increase in a longer term perspective.