Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Comparing the Effect of Naturally Restored Forest and Grassland on Carbon Sequestration and Its Vertical Distribution in the Chinese Loess Plateau

By Jie Wei, Jimin Cheng, Weijun Li and Weiguo Liu


Vegetation restoration has been conducted in the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP) since the 1950s, and large areas of farmland have been converted to forest and grassland, which largely results in SOC change. However, there has been little comparative research on SOC sequestration and distribution between secondary forest and restored grassland. Therefore, we selected typical secondary forest (SF-1 and SF-2) and restored grassland (RG-1 and RG-2) sites and determined the SOC storage. Moreover, to illustrate the factors resulting in possible variance in SOC sequestration, we measured the soil δ13C value. The average SOC content was 6.8, 9.9, 17.9 and 20.4 g kg−1 at sites SF-1, SF-2, RG-1 and RG-2, respectively. Compared with 0–100 cm depth, the percentage of SOC content in the top 20 cm was 55.1%, 55.3%, 23.1%, and 30.6% at sites SF-1, SF-2, RG-1 and RG-2, suggesting a higher SOC content in shallow layers in secondary forest and in deeper layers in restored grassland. The variation of soil δ13C values with depth in this study might be attributed to the mixing of new and old carbon and kinetic fractionation during the decomposition of SOM by microbes, whereas the impact of the Suess effect (the decline of 13C atmospheric CO2 values with the burning of fossil fuel since the Industrial Revolution) was minimal. The soil δ13C value increased sharply in the top 20 cm, which then increased slightly in deeper layers in secondary forest, indicating a main carbon source of surface litter. However the soil δ13C values exhibited slow increases in the whole profile in the restored grasslands, suggesting that the contribution of roots to soil carbon in deeper layers played an important role. We suggest that naturally restored grassland would be a more effective vegetation type for SOC sequestration due to higher carbon input from roots in the CLP

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g... (external link)
  • Suggested articles


    1. (2009). A disconnect between O horizon and mineral soil carbonImplications for soil C sequestration.
    2. (1996). A global analysis of root distributions for terrestrial biomes.
    3. (2012). A policy-driven large scale ecological restoration: quantifying ecosystem services changes in the Loess Plateau of China.
    4. (2005). Aggregate and soil organic carbon dynamics in South Chilean Andisols.
    5. (1992). Aspects of the chemical structure of soil organic materials as revealed by solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy.
    6. (2007). Carbon isotope fractionation during decomposition of organic matter in soils and paleosols: Implications for paleoecological interpretations of paleosols.
    7. (2000). Carbon isotope ratios in belowground carbon cycle processes.
    8. (2006). Change of soil physical properties under long-term natural vegetation restoration in the Loess Plateau of China.
    9. (2009). Content and distribution characteristics of soil organic carbon and total nitrogen of grassland in Yunwu Mountain. Yang ling North West Agriculture and Forest University (in Chinese with English abstract).
    10. (2005). d 13C variation of C3 and C4 plants across an Asian monsoon rainfall gradient in arid northwestern China.
    11. (2011). Dynamics of soil organic carbon storage following restoration of grassland on Yunwu Mountain.
    12. (2002). Ecohydrology of water-controlled ecosystems.
    13. (2010). Effects of landscape restoration on soil water storage and water use in the Loess Plateau Region, China. Forest Ecology and
    14. (2006). Effects of soil texture on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics after cessation of agriculture.
    15. (2011). Effects of vegetation restoration on soil organic carbon sequestration at multiple scales in semi-arid Loess Plateau,
    16. (2007). Ekblad A
    17. (2010). Estimating soil organic carbon storage and distribution in a catchment of Loess Plateau,
    18. (1986). Ice core record of the 13C/ 12C ratio of atmospheric CO2 in the past two centuries.
    19. (1999). Isotopic ( 13C) Fractionation During Plant Residue Decomposition and its Implications for Soil Organic Matter Studies. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 13(13): 1284–1290. Grassland Accumulates More Carbon than Forest PLoS
    20. (2004). Isotopic estimates of new carbon inputs into litter and soils in a four-year climate change experiment with Douglas-fir.
    21. (2008). Links between plant litter chemistry, species diversity, and below-ground ecosystem function.
    22. (2010). Local-scale spatial variability of soil organic carbon and its stock in the hilly area of the Loess Plateau,
    23. (2011). Management and land use change effects on soil carbon in northern China’s grasslands: a synthesis.
    24. (2010). Moisture and vegetation controls on decadal-scale accrual of soil organic carbon and total nitrogen in restored grasslands.
    25. (2008). Plant diversity positively affects short-term soil carbon storage in experimental grasslands.
    26. (2000). Plant effects on soil carbon storage and turnover in a montane beech (Nothofagus) forest and adjacent tussock grassland in New Zealand.
    27. (2005). Rayleigh distillation and the depth profile of 13C/ 12C ratios of soil organic carbon from soils of disparate texture in Iron Range National Park, Far North Queensland, Australia. Geochimica et cosmochimica acta 69(8):
    28. (1994). Relationship Between Forests and Loess Thicknesses in the Loess Plateau region. Bulletin of soil and water conservation 14(6): 1–4 (in Chinese with English abstract).
    29. (2011). Roots contribute more to refractory soil organic matter than above-ground crop residues, as revealed by a long-term field experiment.
    30. (2008). Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in global carbon pools.
    31. (2010). Soil aggregation, aggregate stability, organic carbon and nitrogen in different soil aggregate fractions under forest and shrub vegetation on the Loess Plateau,
    32. (1997). Soil and solution chemistry under pasture and radiata pine in New Zealand. Plant and Soil
    33. (1998). Soil carbon changes from conversion of forest to pasture in Brazilian Amazonia. Forest Ecology and Management
    34. (2000). Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential.
    35. (2004). Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security.
    36. (2002). Soil carbon sequestration in China through agricultural intensification, and restoration of degraded and desertified ecosystems. Land Degradation and Development
    37. (2002). Soil carbon stocks and land use change: a meta analysis.
    38. (2009). Soil dynamics in Pinus halepensis reforestation: Effect of microenvironments and previous land use.
    39. (2010). Soil organic carbon accumulation following afforestation in a Japanese coniferous plantation based on particle-size fractionation and stable isotope analysis.
    40. (2004). Soil organic carbon pool changes following land-use conversions.
    41. (2010). Soil organic carbon stock change due to land use activity along the agricultural frontier of the southwestern Amazon,
    42. (2009). Soil organic matter dynamics during 80 years of reforestation of tropical pastures.
    43. (2005). Spatial and temporal distribution of carbon isotopes in soil organic matter at the Dinghushan Biosphere Reserve, South China.
    44. (2006). Stable carbon isotope depth profiles and soil organic carbon dynamics in the lower Mississippi Basin.
    45. (2011). Stable carbon isotopes as indicators for environmental change in palsa peats.
    46. (2000). Stable isotope tracers and mathematical models in soil organic matter studies. In, Methods in Ecosystem Science. Edited by,
    47. (2008). Temporal changes in C and N stocks of restored prairie: implications for C sequestration strategies.
    48. (2009). The influence of land-use change on the organic carbon distribution and microbial respiration in a volcanic soil of the Chilean Patagonia. Forest Ecology and
    49. (2000). The vertical distribution of soil organic carbon and its relation to climate and vegetation.
    50. (2002). Vegetation distribution in relation to topographically driven processes in southwestern Australia.

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.