Solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was applied to coarse woody debris (CWD) in different stages of decomposition and collected from forest floor of a subtropical, a cool temperate, and a subalpine forest in Japan. The purpose was to test its applicability to characterize organic chemical composition of CWD of broad-leaved and coniferous trees from different climatic conditions. O-alkyl-C, mainly representing carbohydrates, was the predominant component of CWD at the three sites, accounting for 43.5-58.1% of the NMR spectra. Generally, the relative area under the signals for aromatic-C and phenolic-C, mainly representing lignin, increased, whereas the relative area for O-alkyl-C decreased, as the decay class advanced. The relative area under NMR chemical shift regions was significantly correlated with the chemical properties examined with proximate analyses. That is, O-alkyl-C and di-O-alkyl-C NMR signal areas were positively correlated with the volumetric density of CWD and the content of total carbohydrates. Methoxyl-C, aromatic-C, phenolic-C, carboxyl-C, and carbonyl-C were positively correlated with the contents of acid-unhydrolyzable residues (lignin, tannins, and cutin) and nitrogen. Lignin-C calculated from NMR signals increased, and polysaccharide-C decreased, with the decay class of CWD at the three study sites. A review of previous studies on 13C NMR spectroscopy for decomposing CWD suggested further needs of its application to broad-leaved trees from tropical and subtropical regions. Keywords Carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, coarse woody debris, lignin, decomposition, wood.
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