Distinct storage mechanisms of soil organic carbon in coniferous forest and evergreen broadleaf forest in tropical China

Su, Fanglong and Xu, Shan and Sayer, Emma and Chen, Weibin and Du, Yue and Lu, Xiankai (2021) Distinct storage mechanisms of soil organic carbon in coniferous forest and evergreen broadleaf forest in tropical China. Journal of Environmental Management, 295: 113142. ISSN 0301-4797

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The impact of human activities on soil carbon (C) storage in tropical forests has aroused wide concern during the past decades, because these ecosystems play a key role in ameliorating global climate change. However, there remain uncertainties about how land-use history alters soil organic carbon (SOC) stability and storage in different forests. In this study, we measured the C content and mass distributions of soil aggregates, density fractions, mineral-bound C and microbial biomass C in the organic horizon, 0-10 cm and 10-20 cm soil layers in coniferous forest and evergreen broadleaf forest at Dinghushan Biosphere Reserve in tropical China. The broadleaf forest had larger SOC stocks than the coniferous forest, but the proportion of SOC stored in different density fractions at 0-10 cm soils was similar between forest types, while a greater proportion of SOC was stored in microaggregates in the coniferous forest. Most of the SOC was held as light fraction C in the organic horizon in the coniferous forest, whereas the concentrations of mineral-bound C were higher in the broadleaf forest. These findings indicate clear differences in the protection of SOC between broadleaf and coniferous forests growing on the same soil type. We propose that historic conversion of broadleaf forest to coniferous forest has reduced soil C sequestration capacity by altering the diversity and quality of plant inputs to the soil, which in turn affected macroaggregate formation, soil chemical properties and microbial biomass. Our results thus demonstrate that changes in forest tree species composition could have long-lasting effects on soil structure and carbon storage, providing crucial evidence for policy decisions on forest carbon sink management.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Environmental Management
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Environmental Management. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Environmental Management, 295, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113142
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? soil organic carbon storagelight and heavy density fractionsmicroaggregatesmacroaggregatesforest conversionland-use historyenvironmental engineeringmanagement, monitoring, policy and lawwaste management and disposal ??
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23 Jun 2021 10:40
Last Modified:
08 May 2024 00:18