Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Forest Resources

Committee Member

Elena Mikhailova, Ph.D., Committee Chair

Committee Member

Christopher Post, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Schlautman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Moysey, Ph.D.


Most current frameworks of ecosystem services represent soil organic carbon (SOC) as a bulk/composited stock without differentiating SOC ecosystem services in the top and subsoil. This study evaluated SOC, nitrogen (N), and C/N distribution with depth in glaciated soils at the Cornell University Willsboro Research Farm in upstate New York. Soil organic carbon, N, and C/N decreased with depth in all soils sampled. The vertical distribution of SOC was examined quantitatively by soil order, soil depth class (top soil versus subsoil), and other environmentally-relevant soil and landscape variables. Top soils (A horizon) contained more variable SOC concentrations compared with the lower depth horizons (subsoils). Soil depth class was statistically significant in explaining vertical distributions of SOC in all three soil orders present on the farm. Nitrogen concentrations in the soils tracked well with SOC, decreasing sharply with depth from the soil surface to about 40 cm and then declining slowly thereafter to stable low values with additional depth. Despite the soils being highly heterogeneous due to past glaciation, making coarse fraction corrections to the measured SOC concentrations did not result in a statistically significant change in our results. Existing frameworks of ecosystem services for SOC were integrated with an organizational hierarchy of soil systems. Ecosystem services provided by SOC are depth-dependent because of the types of SOC within the soil: top soil having more active or labile SOC and subsoil having less active, more non-labile SOC which is relatively bio-geochemically stable (e.g. humus). Proposed integration of existing ecosystem services framework with organizational hierarchy of soil systems provides a missing link to scale, time, degree of computation and complexity.



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