Effects of Typical Vegetation Roots on Soil Aggregates and Their Organic Carbon Fractions on the Loess Plateau

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    In order to investigate the changes of organic carbon content fractions in aggregates of different particle sizes under the effects of vegetation roots and their main influencing factors, two typical vegetation species (Artemisia gmelinii Web. and Stipa bungeana Trin.) growing naturally on the Loess Plateau were were chosen as subjects, while abandoned land for one year served as control (CK). The mass ratio of each particle size aggregates and their soil organic carbon (SOC), particulate organic carbon (POC) and mineral associated organic carbon (MAOC) contents were determined and the relationships between the basic properties of the soil, the characteristics of the root system and the carbon fractions of each different particle size aggregates were analyzed. The results revealed the following findings: (1) Compared to CK, contents of POC and MAOC were significantly higher in Artemisia gmelinii Web. and Stipa bungeana Trin, with POC contents varying more than MAOC. The experimental land of Artemisia gmelinii Web. and Stipa bungeana Trin. significantly increased the carbon fraction contents of macro-aggregates (>0.25 mm) by 7.44~8.26 times and 3.76~4.37 times respectively, which had the bigger increase than that of the micro-aggregates. (2) The organic carbon content of large macro-aggregates was significantly correlated with POC and MAOC, that of small macro-aggregates was significantly correlated with POC, and that of micro-aggregates was significantly correlated with MAOC. The inclusive effects of POC and the binding effects of MAOC by the aggregates coexisted, and both of them acted in different ways to influence the changes of organic carbon in aggregates, and then affected the total organic carbon of the soil, of which the organic carbon content of small aggregates was the most important influencing factor. (3) Soil aggregate carbon fractions were significantly correlated with vegetation root parameters, where root surface area density (RSAD) and root weight density (RWD) played major roles in influencing the aggregate carbon fractions, explaining variance of 50.5% and 17.0% respectively. Through the effects of carbon fractions on organic carbon in soil aggregates of all particle sizes, plant roots can effectively enhance soil organic carbon contents and improve soil quality, and the results of this study provide a reference for soil carbon sequestration and vegetation restoration in the Loess Plateau region.

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  • Received:June 19,2023
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  • Online: December 27,2023
  • Published: December 28,2023