29 Nov 2023
 | 29 Nov 2023

Spatial and temporal variability in soil and vegetation carbon dynamics under experimental drought and soil amendments

Daniela Guasconi, Sara Cousins, Stefano Manzoni, Nina Roth, and Gustaf Hugelius

Abstract. Soils are the largest carbon (C) pool on the planet, and grassland soils have a particularly large C sequestration potential. Appropriate land management strategies, such as organic matter additions, can improve soil health, increase soil C stocks, and increase grassland resilience to drought by improving soil moisture retention. However, soil C dynamics are deeply linked to vegetation response to changes in both management and climate, which may also be manifested differently in roots and shoots. This study presents findings from a three-year experiment that assessed the impact of a compost amendment and of reduced precipitation on soil and vegetation C pools. Compost addition increased aboveground biomass and soil C content (%C), but because bulk density decreased, there was no significant effect on soil C stocks. Drought decreased aboveground biomass, but did not significantly affect root biomass. Overall, the soil amendment shifted C allocation to aboveground plant organs, and drought to belowground organs. We also observed significant spatial and temporal variability in vegetation biomass and soil C over the study period. These results highlight the need to consider multiple biotic and abiotic factors driving ecosystem C dynamics across spatial scales when upscaling results from field trials.

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Daniela Guasconi, Sara Cousins, Stefano Manzoni, Nina Roth, and Gustaf Hugelius

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2673', Anonymous Referee #1, 13 Dec 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Daniela Guasconi, 02 Feb 2024
      • RC2: 'Reply on AC1', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Feb 2024
        • AC4: 'Reply on RC2', Daniela Guasconi, 04 May 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2673', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Apr 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC3', Daniela Guasconi, 03 May 2024
  • RC4: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2673', Anonymous Referee #3, 04 Apr 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC4', Daniela Guasconi, 03 May 2024
Daniela Guasconi, Sara Cousins, Stefano Manzoni, Nina Roth, and Gustaf Hugelius
Daniela Guasconi, Sara Cousins, Stefano Manzoni, Nina Roth, and Gustaf Hugelius


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Short summary
This study assesses the effects of experimental drought and of a soil amendment on soil and vegetation carbon pools, at different soil depths. Drought consistently reduced soil moisture and aboveground biomass, while compost increased total soil carbon content and aboveground biomass, and effects were more pronounced in the topsoil. Root biomass was not significantly affected by the treatments. The contrasting response of roots and shoots improves our understanding of ecosystem carbon dynamics.