Effects of vegetation restoration on the aggregate stability and distribution of aggregate-associated organic carbon in a typical karst gorge region
Solid Earth Discussions
Changes in soil utilization significantly affect aggregate stability and aggregate-associated soil organic carbon (SOC). A field investigation and indoor analysis were conducted in order to study the soil aggregate stability and organic carbon distribution in the water-stable aggregates (WSA) of the bare land (BL), grassland (GL), shrubland (SL), and woodland (WL) in a typical karst gorge region. The results indicated that the BL, GL, SL, and WL were dominated by particles with sizes > 5 mm
... th sizes > 5 mm under dry sieving treatment, and that the soil aggregate contents of various sizes decreased as the particle size decreased. In addition, the BL, GL, SL, and WL were predominantly comprised of WSA < 0.25 mm under wet sieving treatment, and that the WSA contents initially increased, then decreased, and then increased again as the particle size decreased. Furthermore, at a soil depth of 0–60 cm, the mean weight diameter (MWD), geometrical mean diameter (GMD), and fractal dimensions (<i>D</i>) of the dry aggregates and water-stable aggregates in the different types of land were ranked, in descending order, as WL > GL > SL > BL. The contents of WSA > 0.25 mm, MWD and GMD increased significantly, in that order, and the percentage of aggregate destruction (PAD) and fractal dimensions decreased significantly as the soil aggregate stability improved. The results of this study indicated that, as the SOC contents increased after vegetation restoration, the average SOC content of WL was 2.35, 1.37, and 1.26 times greater than that in the BL, GL, and SL, respectively. The total SOC and SOC associated in WSA of various sizes were the highest at a soil depth of 0–20 cm. In addition, the SOC contents of the WSA increased as the soil aggregate sizes decreased. The SOC contents of the WSA < 0.25 mm were highest except in the bare land, and the SOC contents of the aggregates < 0.25 mm, which ranged from 18.85 to 41.08 %, comprised the majority of the total aggregate SOC contents. The woodland and grassland facilitated WSA stability and SOC protection, thus, promoting the natural restoration of vegetation by reducing artificial disturbances could effectively restore the ecology of and prevent soil erosion in karst regions.