Spatial and temporal variability in soil and vegetation carbon dynamics under experimental drought and soil amendments
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.
Status: open (until 28 Mar 2024)
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