20 Jul 2022
20 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Biotic factors dominantly determine soil inorganic carbon stock across Tibetan alpine grasslands

Junxiao Pan1, Jinsong Wang1, Dashuan Tian1, Ruiyang Zhang1, Yang Li1, Lei Song1,2, Jiaming Yang1, Chunxue Wei1, and Shuli Niu1,2 Junxiao Pan et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, PR China
  • 2College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, PR China

Abstract. Soil inorganic carbon (SIC) pool is a major component of soil C pools, and clarifying the predictors of SIC stock is urgent for decreasing soil C losses and maintaining soil health and ecosystem functions. However, the drivers and their relative effects on the SIC stock at different soil depths remain largely unexplored. Here, we conducted a large-scale sampling to investigate the effects and relative contributions of abiotic (climate and soil) and biotic (plant and microbe) drivers on the SIC stock between topsoils (0–10 cm) and subsoils (20–30 cm) across Tibetan alpine grasslands. Results showed that the SIC stock had no significant differences between the topsoil and subsoil. The SIC stock was positively associated with altitude, pH, and sand proportion, but negatively correlated with mean annual precipitation, plant aboveground biomass, plant coverage, root biomass, soil available nitrogen, microbial biomass carbon, and bacterial and fungal gene abundance. For both soil layers, biotic factors had larger effects on the SIC stock than abiotic factors did. But the relative importance of these determinants varied with soil depth, with the effects of plant and microbial variables on SIC stock weakening with soil depth, whereas the importance of climatic and edaphic variables increasing with soil depth. Specifically, bacterial and fungal gene abundance and plant coverage played dominant roles in regulating SIC stock in the topsoil, while soil pH contributed largely to the variation of SIC stock in the subsoil. Our findings highlight differential drivers over SIC stock with soil depth, which should be considered in biogeochemical models for better simulating and predicting SIC dynamics and its feedbacks to environmental changes.

Junxiao Pan et al.

Status: open (until 10 Sep 2022)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-562', Enrico Balugani, 04 Aug 2022 reply

Junxiao Pan et al.

Data sets

DATA-soil.xlsx Junxiao Pan

Junxiao Pan et al.


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Short summary
Our findings showed that the climatic, edaphic, plant and microbial variables jointly affected SIC stock in the Tibetan grasslands and that biotic factors had a larger contribution than abiotic factors to the variation of SIC stock. The effects of microbial and plant variables on SIC stock weakened with soil depth, while the effects of edaphic variables strengthened. The contrasting responses and drivers of SIC stock highlight differential mechanisms underlying SIC preservation with soil depth.