Age-related changes of carbon accumulation and allocation in plants and soil of black locust forest on Loess Plateau in Ansai County, Shaanxi Province of China

Li, Taijun; Liu, Guobin
August 2014
Chinese Geographical Science;Aug2014, Vol. 24 Issue 4, p414
Academic Journal
The effects of reforestation on carbon (C) sequestration in China's Loess Plateau ecosystem have attracted much research attention in recent years. Black locust trees ( Robinia pseudoacacia L.) are valued for their important use in reforestation and water and soil conservation efforts. This forest type is widespread across the Loess Plateau, and must be an essential component of any planning for C sequestration efforts in this fragile ecological region. The long-term effects of stand age on C accumulation and allocation after reforestation remains uncertain. We examined an age-sequence of black locust forest (5, 9, 20, 30, 38, and 56 yr since planting) on the Loess Plateau to evaluate C accumulation and allocation in plants (trees, shrubs, herbages, and leaf litter) and soil (0-100 cm). Allometric equations were developed for estimating the biomass of tree components (leaf, branch, stem without bark, bark and root) with a destructive sampling method. Our results demonstrated that black locust forest ecosystem accumulated C constantly, from 31.42 Mg C/ ha (1 Mg = 10 g) at 5 yr to 79.44 Mg C/ha at 38 yr. At the 'old forest' stage (38 to 56 yr), the amount of C in plant biomass significantly decreased (from 45.32 to 34.52 Mg C/ha) due to the high mortality of trees. However, old forest was able to accumulate C continuously in soil (from 33.66 to 41.00 Mg C/ha). The C in shrub biomass increased with stand age, while the C stock in the herbage layer and leaf litter was age-independent. Reforestation resulted in C re-allocation in the forest soil. The topsoil (0-20 cm) C stock increased constantly with stand age. However, C storage in sub-top soil, in the 20-30, 30-50, 50-100, and 20-100 cm layers, was age-independent. These results suggest that succession, as a temporal factor, plays a key role in C accumulation and re-allocation in black locust forests and also in regional C dynamics in vegetation.


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