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Large-Scale Distribution of Molecular Components in Chinese Grassland Soils: The Influence of Input and Decomposition Processes
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Dai GH, Ma T, Zhu SS, Liu ZG, Chen DM, Bai YF, Chen LT, He JS, Zhu JT, Zhang YJ, Lu XT, Wang XB, Han XG, Feng XJ*
PubYear : 2018
Volume : 123  Issue : 1
Publication Name : Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Page number : 239-255
Abstract : 

Chinese grasslands hold a third of the national soil organic carbon (OC) stocks but remain poorly investigated in terms of soil molecular components and their distribution patterns. Such information is important for understanding mechanisms governing grassland soil OC dynamics and its response to global changes. Here employing solvent-extractable compounds as a group of widely used biomarkers, we present a large-scale study on the distribution of different soil OC components (including plant- and microbial-derived carbohydrates and aliphatic and cyclic lipids) in the surface soils of Chinese grasslands, spanning from temperate grasslands in the arid/semiarid regions to alpine grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. We show that alpine grassland soils are more enriched with carbohydrates and plant-derived compounds relative to the temperate counterparts due to temperature-inhibited decomposition. While plant belowground biomass plays a key role in explaining the spatial variation of compounds in the alpine grasslands, climatic variables do in the temperate region. In particular, aliphatic lipids accumulate with increasing mean annual temperature in the temperate grasslands due to a preferential decay of labile soil OC, whereas they decrease in the alpine grasslands owing to dilution by an enhanced plant input of nonlipid components. Collectively, these results demonstrate different mechanisms governing the distribution of solvent-extractable compounds in grassland soils, with climate-mediated decomposition processes dominating in the temperate grasslands and plant inputs being more important in the alpine region. In the context of climate change, alterations to soil OC input and decomposition processes may have varied impacts on soil carbon cycling in these two regions.



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