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Contrasting effects of thinning on soil CO emission and above- and belowground carbon regime under a subtropical Chinese fir plantation.

08:00 EDT 26th June 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Contrasting effects of thinning on soil CO emission and above- and belowground carbon regime under a subtropical Chinese fir plantation."

Thinning plays a major role in forest soil carbon cycling. However, the mechanisms governing soil C fluxes, i.e., C input through litterfall and fine root (FR) production and C output through soil heterotrophic respiration (R), remain unclear. To fill this gap, we quantified the C fluxes in the topsoil layer (0-20 cm) by measuring litterfall, FR production and total soil respiration (R) (R (autotrophic respiration) and R) at three thinning intensities (control; low-intensity thinning: extraction of 30% of individual trees; high-intensity thinning (HIT): extraction of 70% of individual trees) in a 26-year-old Chinese fir plantation in southern China. In the control plots, the total C input (110 g C m year) via litterfall (59 g C m year) and FR production (51 g C m year) was much lower than the C output via R (518 g C m year). This finding demonstrated that the soil is a C source (407 g C m year). Furthermore, the C source increased with increasing thinning intensity, particularly under HIT, due to the decreased litterfall return and increased soil CO emissions through R; this increase occurred despite the increased C input from FR production. In addition, the C output via R significantly increased by 42% under HIT due to the stimulation of R and R. Consequently, thinning reduced the topsoil C pool by 7-8%. Redundancy analysis indicated that the soil C fluxes following thinning were driven by increased FR mortality, understory plant biomass and diversity, and microbial biomass carbon (MBC). Overall, our results indicate that heavy thinning increases soil C loss by increasing soil CO emissions and decreasing litterfall return, even under substantially increased FR production. This finding suggests that thinning practices should consider the trade-off between soil C inputs and outputs to reduce the impact of thinning on forest soil carbon sequestration.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: The Science of the total environment
ISSN: 1879-1026
Pages: 361-369

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