Effect of soil texture and roots on the stable isotope composition of soil organic carbon

Michael Ian Bird, O Kracht, D Derrien, Y Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examines the distribution of soil organic carbon and carbon-isotopes with depth and among particle size fractions in 2 forest soil profiles of contrasting texture from Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia.

The profile on sand has a comparatively low inventory of carbon (557 mg/cm(2) from 0-100 cm) and exhibits comparatively small variations in delta(13)C value. In contrast, the clay-rich profile has a much larger inventory of soil organic carbon (1725 mg/cm(2) from 0-100 cm) and large variations in delta(13)C value occur both with depth in the profile and between different particle size fractions. The considerable differences in carbon inventories and delta(13)C values between the sites appear to be largely due to soil textural differences. In the absence of fine minerals the trend in delta(13)C value with decreasing particle size is to similar or lower delta(13)C values, due to an increase in the relative abundance of low delta(13)C compounds in the residue left by microbial decomposition. In the presence of fine minerals, the trend is to higher delta(13)C values due to the stabilisation of the products of microbial decomposition by the fine minerals. Thus, the bulk delta(13)C value of soil organic carbon appears to be determined as much by the abundance of fine minerals in a soil profile as by isotope fractionation effects accompanying degradation. It is further postulated that an initial rapid rise in delta(13)C value in the upper soil layers is due to an increase in the relative importance of higher C-13, root-derived carbon immediately below the soil surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-94
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Soil Research
Volume41
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • stable carbon isotopes
  • C13
  • carbon cycle
  • LONG-TERM DECOMPOSITION
  • PARTICLE-SIZE FRACTIONS
  • NATURAL C-13 ABUNDANCE
  • SCOTS PINE FOREST
  • ORGANOMINERAL COMPLEXES
  • MATTER DYNAMICS
  • GRASSLAND SOILS
  • DELTA-C-13
  • RATIOS
  • DISCRIMINATION

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