Impact of woody encroachment on soil organic carbon and nitrogen in abandoned agricultural lands along a rainfall gradient in Italy

Agata Novara, Tommaso La Mantia, Juliane Ruhl, Luciano Gristina, Alberti, Rühl, Mairota, Valentini, Leronni, Piazzi, Piazzi, Piussi, Peressotti, Petrella

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review

38 Citazioni (Scopus)


Land use changes represent one of the most important components of global environmental change andhave a strong influence on carbon cycling. As a consequence of changes in economy during the last century, areas of marginal agriculture have been abandoned leading to secondary successions. The encroachment of woody plants into grasslands, pastures and croplands is generally thought to increase the carbon stored in these ecosystems even though there are evidences for a decrease in soil carbon stocks after land use change. In this paper, we investigate the effects of woody plant invasion on soil carbon and nitrogen stocks along a precipitation gradient (200–2,500 mm) using original data from paired experiment in Italian Alps and Sicily and data from literature (Guo and Gifford Glob Change Biol 8(4):345–360, 2002). We found a clear negative relationship (-0.05% C mm-1) between changes in soil organic carbon and precipitation explaining 70% of the variation in soil Cstocks after recolonization: dry sites gain carbon (up to? 67%) while wet sites lose carbon (up to -45%). In our data set, there seem to be two threshold values for soil carbon accumulation: the first one is 900 mm of mean annual rainfall, which separates the negative from the positive ratio values; the second one is 750 mm, which divides the positive values in two groups of sites. Most interestingly, this threshold of 750 mm corresponds exactly to a bioclimatic threshold: sites with\750 mm mean annual rainfall is classified as thermo-mediterranean sites, while the ones [750 mm are classified as mesomediterranean sites. This suggests that apart from rainfall also temperature values have an important influence on soil carbon accumulation after abandonment. Moreover, our results confirmed that the correlation between rainfall and trend in soil organic carbon may be related to nitrogen dynamics: carbon losses may occur only if there is a substantial decrease in soil nitrogen stock which occurs in wetter sites probably because of the higher leaching.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)917-924
Numero di pagine8
RivistaRegional Environmental Change
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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