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Relationships between aboveground woody biomass and soil organic carbon in a semi-desert grassland Heather L. Throop1,2, Steven R. Archer1, Chad R. McMurtry1, and Mitchel P. McClaran1
 

Summary: Relationships between aboveground woody biomass and soil organic carbon in a semi-desert grassland
Heather L. Throop1,2, Steven R. Archer1, Chad R. McMurtry1, and Mitchel P. McClaran1
1School of Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0043
2Biology Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003; throop@nmsu.edu
ABSTRACT
Proliferation of woody plants into grasslands and savannas has changed land cover
globally. Increased cover of woody plants cover accounts for a significant fraction of
the Northern Hemisphere carbon (C) sink, yet the effects of the magnitude and
distribution of woody encroachment on C sinks is uncertain. Under-canopy soil
organic carbon (SOC) pools are thought to be elevated, yet the spatial distribution of
SOC relative to tree canopies is unknown. Understanding this distribution is critical for
developing accurate landscape-scale assessments of the impacts of woody plant
proliferation on ecosystem C pools.
We compared SOC and aboveground C pools for encroaching mesquite (Prosopis
velutina) in an Arizona semi-desert grassland. We developed equations to predict (1)
aboveground C and (2) SOC distribution relative to tree size and bole-to-canopy
position.
SOC increased with tree size and decreased with distance from the bole. The
proportion SOC of total C (SOC + aboveground C) decreased with tree size, such that
SOC was less than 50% of total C for trees >10cm basal diameter.

  

Source: Archer, Steven R. - Savanna/Woodland Ecology Lab., School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology