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Belowground carbon cycling in a humid tropical forest decreases with fertilization

Author(s):

D. Binkley
M. Ryan
J. Fownes

Year:

2004

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station

Historical Station(s):

North Central Research Station

Source:

<i>In</i> Oecologia 139: 545-550. Published online: 8 April 2004. Springer-Verlag 2004

Description

Only a small fraction of the carbon (C) allocated belowground by trees is retained by soils in long-lived, decay-resistant forms, yet because of the large magnitude of terrestrial primary productivity, even small changes in C allocation or retention can alter terrestrial C storage. The humid tropics exert a disproportionately large influence over terrestrial C storage, but C allocation and belowground retention in these ecosystems remain poorly quantified. Using mass balance and 13C isotope methods, we examined the effects of afforestation and fertilization, two land-use changes of large-scale importance, on belowground C cycling at a humid tropical site in Hawaii. Here we report that in unfertilized plots, 80% of the C allocated belowground by trees to roots and mycorrhizae was returned to the atmosphere within 1 year; 9% of the belowground C flux was retained in coarse roots and 11% was retained as new soil C. The gains in new soil C were offset entirely by losses of old soil C. Further, while fertilization early in stand development increased C storage in the litter layer and in coarse roots, it reduced by 22% the flux of C moving through roots and mycorrhizae into mineral soils. Because soil C formation rates related strongly to rhizosphere C flux, fertilization may reduce an already limited capacity of these forests to sequester decay-resistant soil C.

Citation

Giardina, C.; Binkley, D.; Ryan, M.; Fownes, J. 2004. Belowground carbon cycling in a humid tropical forest decreases with fertilization. In Oecologia 139: 545-550. Published online: 8 April 2004. Springer-Verlag 2004

Publication Notes

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/11951