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Responses of soil nitrogen, phosphorous and organic matter to vegetation succession on the Loess Plateau of China

Abstract

Revegetation is a traditional practice widely used for soil protection. We evaluated the effect of natural revegetation succession on soil chemical properties and carbon fractions (particulate organic carbon (POC), humus carbon (HS-C), humic acid carbon (HA-C) and fulvic acid carbon (FA-C)) on the Loess Plateau of China. The vegetation types, in order from the shortest to the longest enclosure duration, were: (a) abandoned overgrazed grassland (AbG3; 3 years); (b) Hierochloe odorata Beauv. (HiO7; 7 years); (c) Thymus mongolicus Ronnm (ThM15; 15 years); (d) Artemisia sacrorum Ledeb (AtS25; 25 years); (e) Stipa bungeana Trin Ledeb (StB36; 36 years) and (f) Stipa grandis P. Smirn (StG56; 56 years). The results showed that the concentrations of soil organic carbon, total nitrogen and available phosphorus increased with the increase of restoration time except for ThM15. The concentration of NH4-N increased in the medium stage (for ThM15 and AtS25) and decreased in the later stage (for StB36 and StG56) of vegetation restoration. However, NO3-N concentration significantly increased in the later stage (for StB36 and StG56). Carbon fractions had a similar increasing trend during natural vegetation restoration. The concentrations of POC, HS-C, FA-C and HA-C accounted for 24.5%–49.1%, 10.6%–15.2%, 5.8%–9.1% and 4.6%–6.1% of total carbon, respectively. For AbG3, the relative changes of POC, HS-C and FA-C were significantly higher than that of total carbon during the process of revegetation restoration. The higher relative increases in POC, HS-C and FA-C confirmed that soil carbon induced by vegetation restoration was sequestrated by higher physical and chemical protection. The increases of soil C fractions could also result in higher ecological function in semiarid grassland ecosystems.

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Correspondence to ShaoShan An.

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Cheng, M., An, S. Responses of soil nitrogen, phosphorous and organic matter to vegetation succession on the Loess Plateau of China. J. Arid Land 7, 216–223 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-014-0043-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-014-0043-3

Keywords

  • particulate organic carbon
  • humus carbon
  • humic acid carbon
  • fulvic acid carbon
  • carbon fraction
  • natural vegetation succession