Carbon dynamics of soil organic matter in bulk soil and aggregate fraction during secondary succession in a Mediterranean environment.

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Abstract

Clarifying which factors cause an increase or decrease in soil organic carbon (SOC) after agricultural abandonment requires integration of data on the temporal dynamics of the plant community and SOC. A chronosequence of abandoned vineyards was studied on a volcanic island (Pantelleria, Italy). Vegetation in the abandoned fields was initially dominated by annual and perennial herbs, then by Hyparrhenia hirta (L.) Stapf, and finally by woody communities. As a consequence, the dominant photosynthetic pathway changed from C3 to C4 and then back to C3. Conversion of a plant community dominated by one photosynthetic pathway to another changes the 13C/12C ratio of inputs to SOC. Using the time since abandonment and the shift in belowground δ13C of SOC relative to the aboveground δ13C plant community, we estimated C3-C and C4-C changes during secondary succession.SOC content (g kg− 1) increased linearly (R2 = 0.89 and 0.73 for 0–15 and 15–30 cm soil depth) with the age of abandonment, increasing from 12 g kg− 1 in cultivated vineyards to as high as 26 g kg− 1 in the last stage of the succession. δ13C increased in the bulk soil and its three aggregate fractions (> 250, 250–25, and < 25 μm) during succession, but the effect of soil depth and its interaction with succession age were significant only for soil aggregate fractions. Polynomial curves described the change in δ13C over the chronosequence for both depths. δ13C in the bulk soil had increased from − 28‰ to − 24‰ by 35 years after abandonment for both depths but then decreased to − 26‰ at 60 years after abandonment (corresponding with maturity of the woody plant community). Overall, the results indicate that abandoned vineyards on volcanic soil in a semi-arid environment are C sinks and that C storage in these soils is closely related to plant succession.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)213-221
Numero di pagine9
RivistaGeoderma
Volume193-194
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2013

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  • Soil Science

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