Publication

Back to overview

Mineral-Associated Soil Carbon is Resistant to Drought but Sensitive to Legumes and Microbial Biomass in an Australian Grassland

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Canarini Alberto, Mariotte Pierre, Ingram Lachlan, Merchant Andrew, Dijkstra Feike A.,
Project Climate change impacts on soil N:P stoichiometry and consequent feedbacks on plant-microbe interactions in Australian grasslands
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Ecosystems
Volume (Issue) 21(2)
Page(s) 349 - 359
Title of proceedings Ecosystems
DOI 10.1007/s10021-017-0152-x

Abstract

Drought is predicted to increase in many areas of the world with consequences for soil carbon (C) dynamics. Plant litter, root exudates and microbial biomass can be used as C substrates to form organo-mineral complexes. Drought effects on plants and microbes could potentially compromise these relative stable soil C pools, by reducing plant C inputs and/or microbial activity. We conducted a 2-year drought experiment using rainout shelters in a semi-natural grassland. We measured aboveground biomass and C and nitrogen (N) in particulate organic matter (Pom), the organo-mineral fraction (Omin), and microbial biomass within the first 15 cm of soil. Aboveground plant biomass was reduced by 50{\%} under drought in both years, but only the dominant C4 grasses were significantly affected. Soil C pools were not affected by drought, but were significantly higher in the relatively wet second year compared to the first year. Omin-C was positively related to microbial C during the first year, and positively related to clay and silt content in the second year. Increases in Omin-C in the second year were explained by increases in legume biomass and its effect on Pom-N and microbial biomass N (MBN) through structural equation modeling. In conclusion, soil C pools were unaffected by the drought treatment. Drought resistant legumes enhanced formation of organo-mineral complexes through increasing Pom-N and MBN. Our findings also indicate the importance of microbes for the formation of Omin-C as long as soil minerals have not reached their maximum capacity to bind with C (that is, saturation).
-