Profile storage of organic/inorganic carbon in soil: from forest to desert

Yugang Wang, Yan Li, Xuehua Ye, Yu Chu, Xinping Wang
Science of the Total Environment 2010 March 15, 408 (8): 1925-31
Understanding the distribution of organic/inorganic carbon storage in soil profile is crucial for assessing regional, continental and global soil C stores and predicting the consequences of global change. However, little is known about the organic/inorganic carbon storages in deep soil layers at various landscapes. This study was conducted to determine the soil organic/inorganic carbon storage in soil profile of 0-3m at 5 sites of natural landscape from forest to desert. Landscapes are temperate forest, temperate grassland, temperate shrub-grassland, temperate shrub desert, and temperate desert. Root mass density and carbon contents at the profile were determined for each site. The results showed that considerable decrease in root biomass and soil organic carbon content at the soil profile of 0-3m when landscape varied from forest to desert along a precipitation gradient, while soil inorganic carbon content increased significantly along the precipitation gradient. Namely, for density of soil organic carbon: forest>grassland>shrub-grassland>shrub desert>desert; for density of soil inorganic carbon: forest, grassland<shrub-grassland<shrub desert<desert (P<0.05 in all cases). In landscapes other than forest, more than 50% soil carbon storage was found in 1-3m depth. For grassland and shrub-grassland, the contribution from 1-3m was mainly in the form of organic carbon, while for shrub desert and desert the contribution from this depth was mainly in the form of inorganic carbon. The comparison of soil C storage between top 0-1m and 1-3m showed that the using top 1m of soil profile to estimate soil carbon storages would considerably underestimate soil carbon storage. This is especially true for organic soil carbon at grassland region, and for soil inorganic carbon at desert region.

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