Understanding the changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) storage is important for accurately predicting ecosystem C sequestration and/or potential C losses, but the relevant information, especially for the evolvement of calcareous soil is limited in karst regions. Three calcareous soils with different evolvement intensities were sampled from an evergreen broadleaved forest in the subtropical region of southwest of China to investigate the changes in different SOC fractions and microbial communities. The results showed that: (1) The contents of SOC, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), mineral protected organic carbon (MOC), and recalcitrant organic carbon (ROC) significantly decreased with increasing evolvement intensity of calcareous soil, but pH and the chemical composition of SOC, including Alkyl C, O-alkyl C, Aromatic C, and Carbonyl C, did not significantly change, suggesting that various SOC fractions synergistically decrease with the evolvement of calcareous soil. (2) The evolvement of calcareous soil had a substantial negative effect on total phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA), bacteria (i.e., Gram positive bacteria and Gram negative bacteria), fungi, and actinomycetes, but did not affect the ratio of fungi to bacteria. This result supported the conclusion that various SOC fractions were synchronously loss with the evolvement of calcareous soil. (3) Results from the multivariate statistical analysis showed a significant correlation between SOC fractions (including SOC, DOC, MOC, and ROC) and soil base cations, mainly calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), and aluminum (Al). This strengthens the fact that SOC stability largely depends on the complex relationship between organic matter and mineral composition in soil. Taken together, the reduction of SOC during the evolvement of soil in the karst areas accords with some mechanisms of previous studies (e.g., microbial composition and soil geochemistry), and also has its own unique characteristics (e.g., the relative contribution of carbons to chemical shift regions of CPMAS 13
C-NMR spectra and F:B ratio).
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