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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2019-40
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2019-40
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: original research article 26 Jul 2019

Submitted as: original research article | 26 Jul 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal SOIL (SOIL).

Lithology and climate controlled soil aggregate size distribution and organic carbon stability in the Peruvian Andes

Songyu Yang1, Boris Jansen1, Samira Absalah1, Rutger L. van Hall1, Karsten Kalbitz2, and Erik L. H. Cammeraat1 Songyu Yang et al.
  • 1Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2Soil Resources and Land Use, Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

Abstract. Recent studies indicate that climate change influences soil mineralogy by altering weathering processes, and thus impacts soil aggregation and organic carbon (SOC) stability. Alpine ecosystems of the Neotropical Andes are characterized by high SOC stocks, which are important to sustain ecosystem services. However, climate change in the form of altered precipitation patterns can potentially affect soil aggregation and SOC stability with potentially significant effects on the soil’s ecosystem services. This study aimed to investigate the effects of precipitation and lithology on soil aggregation and SOC stability in the Peruvian Andean grasslands, and assessed whether occlusion of organic matter (OM) in aggregates controls SOC stability. For this, samples were collected from limestone soils (LSs) and acid igneous rock soils (ASs) from two sites with contrasting precipitation levels. We used a dry-sieving method to quantify aggregate size distribution, and applied a 76-day soil incubation with intact and crushed aggregates to investigate SOC stability in dependence on aggregation. SOC stocks ranged from 153±27 to 405 ± 42 Mg ha−1, and the highest stocks were found in the LSs of the wet site. We found lithology rather than precipitation to be the key factor regulating soil aggregate size distribution, as indicated by coarse aggregates in the LSs and fine aggregates in the ASs. SOC stability estimated by specific SOC mineralization rates decreased with precipitation in the LSs, but minor differences were found between wet and dry sites in the ASs. Aggregate destruction had a limited effect on SOC mineralization, which indicates that occlusion of OM in aggregates played a minor role in OM stabilization. This was further supported by inconsistent patterns of aggregate size distribution compared to the patterns of SOC stability. We propose that OM adsorption on mineral surfaces is the major OM stabilization mechanism controlling SOC stocks and stability. The results highlight the interactions between precipitation and lithology on SOC stability, which are likely controlled by soil mineralogy in relation to OM input.

Songyu Yang et al.
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Songyu Yang et al.
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Latest update: 17 Nov 2019
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Short summary
Soil stores a lot of carbon and slows down global warming. The capacity of soil to store carbon is affected by many factors and we don't clearly know how they work. We studied how rainfall change affects soil carbon storage related to soil structure in the Andes. We found soil structure is not important. How rainfall change affects soil carbon storage is dependent on rocks under the soil. The results indicate the rocks under the soil are important for soil to store carbon against global warming.
Soil stores a lot of carbon and slows down global warming. The capacity of soil to store carbon...
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