carbon budget

Comparing soil organic carbon dynamics in plantation and secondary forest in wet tropics in Puerto Rico

YIQING, LI; XU, MING; ZOU XIAOMING; SHI§, PEIJUN; ZHANG, YAOQI 2005. Comparing soil organic carbon dynamics in plantation and secondary forest in wet tropics in Puerto Rico. Global Change Biology 11,: 239–248, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.00896.x.

We compared the soil carbon dynamics between a pine plantation and a secondary forest, both of which originated from the same farmland abandoned in 1976 with the same cropping history and soil conditions, in the wet tropics in Puerto Rico from July 1996 to June 1997. We found that the secondary forest accumulated the heavy-fraction organic carbon (HF-OC) measured by the density fractionation technique, more efficiently than the tree plantation did. Although there was no significant difference in total soil organic carbon (SOC) between the plantation (5.59  0.09 kgm2) and the secondary forest (5.68  0.16 kgm2), the proportion of HF-OC carbon to the total SOC was significantly higher in the secondary forest (61%) than in the plantation (45%) (Po0.05). Forest floor mass and aboveground litterfall in the plantation were 168% and 22.8% greater than those in the secondary forest, respectively, while the decomposition rate of leaf litter in the plantation was 23.3% lower than that in the secondary forest. The annual mean soil respirations in the plantation and the secondary forest were 2.32  0.15 and 2.65  0.18 gCm2 day1, respectively, with a consistently higher rate in the secondary forest than in the plantation throughout the year. Microbial biomass measured by fumigation–incubation method demonstrated a strong seasonal variation in the secondary forest with 804mgkg1 in the wet season and 460mgkg1 in the dry season. However, the seasonal change of microbial biomass in the plantation was less significant. Our results suggested that secondary forests could stock more long-term SOC than the plantations in the wet tropics because the naturally generated secondary forest accumulated more HF-OC than the managed plantation.


Kristofer Dee Johnson, "Modeling spatial and temporal patterns of soil organic carbon in two montane landscapes: The northern hardwoods, Vermont and the tabonuco forest, Puerto Rico" (January 1, 2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3328590.

Forest soils contribute to a significant portion of the world’s carbon flux due to both natural and anthropogenic changes. In terms of human management of carbon pools, forest soil organic matter (SOM) is important because it potentially stores carbon more permanently than living vegetation. Yet, this potential is poorly understood or managed for because of the difficulty in measuring changes in SOM pools over time and space. Modeling combined with intensive field sampling can help overcome these limitations because it extracts from empirically observed relationships to account for the components of SOM formation (topography, time, parent material, organisms and climate[fns2]). This study utilizes intensive field data, statistical models and process-based ecosystem models to investigate the spatial distribution and dynamics of soil organic carbon dynamics in two contrasting ecosystems – the northern hardwood forest in the Green Mountains, VT and the tabonuco forest in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, PR. In both forests landscape position emerged as the dominate factor in explaining SOM distribution. In Vermont, additional variation was explained by aspect and slope and in Puerto Rico additional variation was explained by landscape factors interrelated to soil drainage. Process-based modeling proved to be a useful management and experimental tool in cases were empirical approaches were impractical for both forests. In Vermont, three ecosystem models demonstrated a substantial reduction of soil organic carbon and harvestable biomass due to the removal of woody carbon by logging after 240 years of rotations. In Puerto Rico, the Century model showed that changes in litter quality and quantity were not likely responsible in explaining landscape level SOM differences. Overall, well drained soils located in colder climates stored the highest SOM whereas poorly drained and highly disturbed soils in steep humid climates stored the lowest SOM. This research demonstrates that although SOM amounts are highly variable over many spatial and temporal scales, intuitive relationships are borne out with modeling tools and by careful investigation of the five soil forming factors. Results also raise questions about how these ecosystems and their SOM pools may change in response to changing climate conditions of the future.
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