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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-266
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-266
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Aug 2020

10 Aug 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Factors controlling Carex brevicuspis leaf litter decomposition and its contribution to surface soil organic carbon pool at different water levels

Lianlian Zhu1,2,3, Zhengmiao Deng1,2, Yonghong Xie1,2, Xu Li1,2, Feng Li1,2, Xinsheng Chen1,2, Yeai Zou1,2, Chengyi Zhang4, and Wei Wang1,2 Lianlian Zhu et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha 410125, China
  • 2Dongting Lake Station for Wetland Ecosystem Research, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha 410125, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 4National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China

Abstract. Litter decomposition plays a vital role in wetland carbon cycling. However, the contribution of aboveground litter decomposition to the wetland soil organic carbon (SOC) pool has not yet been quantified. Here, we conducted a Carex brevicuspis leaf litter input experiment to clarify the intrinsic factors controlling litter decomposition and quantify it's contribution to SOC pool at different water levels. This species is ubiquitous to global freshwater wetlands. We sampled this plant leaf litter at −25, 0, and +25 cm relative to the soil surface over 280 days and analysed leaf litter decomposition and its contribution to the SOC pool. The mass loss and carbon release rates were the highest at +25 cm water level, followed by the 0 cm water level. The rates of these parameters were the lowest at −25 cm water level. Significant amounts of litter carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus were released at all three water levels. Litter input significantly increased the soil microbial biomass and fungal density but had nonsignificant impacts on soil bacteria, actinomycetes, and fungal/bacterial concentrations at all three water levels. Compared with litter removal, litter application increased the SOC by 25.12 %, 9.58 %, and 4.98 % at the +25 cm, 0 cm, and −25 cm water levels, respectively. Hence, higher water levels facilitate the release of organic carbon from leaf litter into the soil via water leaching. In this way, they strengthen the soil carbon pool. At lower water levels, soil carbon is lost as the slower litter decomposition rate and active microbial (actinomycete) respiration. Our results revealed that the water level in natural wetlands influences litter decomposition mainly by leaching and microbial activity, by extension, affects wetland surface carbon pool.

Lianlian Zhu et al.

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Lianlian Zhu et al.

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Factors controlling Carex brevicuspis leaf litter decomposition and its contribution to surface soil organic carbon pool at different water levels Lianlian Zhu, Zhengmiao Deng, Yonghong Xie, Xu Li, Feng Li, Xinsheng Chen, Yeai Zou, Chenyi Zhang, and Wei Wang https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12758387.v1

Lianlian Zhu et al.

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Short summary
We compared the relative Carex brevicuspis litter decomposition rates in wetland surface soil at different water levels. The results showed that higher wetland water levels facilitate the release of organic carbon from leaf litter into the soil via water leaching. In this way, the wetland soil carbon pool is strengthened. At lower water levels, wetland soil carbon is lost as the litter decomposition is lower, but active microbial (actinomycete) respiration rate is higher there.
We compared the relative Carex brevicuspis litter decomposition rates in wetland surface soil at...
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