Influences of Chloroform Exposure Time and Soil Water Content on C and N Release in Forest Soils

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Soil Biology & Biochemistry



Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



We investigated the influence of fumigation conditions of the chloroform fumigation–extraction method on the release of extractable carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from organic and mineral soil horizons of 11 mature forests. Soil samples were fumigated with chloroform vapor for 1, 3, 5, or 10 d at two different water contents: field moist or field capacity (−33 kPa matric potential). We found that for approximately half our soils, 0.5 M K2SO4-extractable N and C reached a maximum after 1 d of fumigation. The effect of soil wetting on C and N flushes from O horizons was variable but in mineral soils, increasing the soil water content generally resulted in more extractable C and N following fumigation. For the majority of soils assessed, increasing the soil water content did not change the fumigation time necessary to generate the maximum C or N flush. Observed changes in the C/N ratios of the fumigation flush with changes in fumigation time and the sensitivity of this C/N ratio to changes in soil water content suggest that different fumigation conditions may result in different organic pools being extracted. These effects appear to be extremely soil specific. We recommend that the effects of fumigation time and water content be evaluated before the C and N flushes from the fumigation extraction method are used to assess differences in microbial C and N among contrasting forest soils.

This document is currently not available here.