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Forests 2018, 9(9), 508;

Soil Aggregation and Organic Carbon Dynamics in Poplar Plantations

Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China
Tongzi County Forestry Bureau of Guizhou, Tongzi 563200, China
Faculty of Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 June 2018 / Revised: 14 August 2018 / Accepted: 21 August 2018 / Published: 23 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology of Fine Roots and Mycorrhizas in Forests)
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Soil resident water-stable macroaggregates (diameter (Ø) > 0.25 mm) play a critical role in organic carbon conservation and fertility. However, limited studies have investigated the direct effects of stand development on soil aggregation and its associated mechanisms. Here, we examined the dynamics of soil organic carbon, water-stable macroaggregates, litterfall production, fine-root (Ø < 1 mm) biomass, and soil microbial biomass carbon with stand development in poplar plantations (Populus deltoides L. ‘35’) in Eastern Coastal China, using an age sequence (i.e., five, nine, and 16 years since plantation establishment). We found that the quantity of water-stable macroaggregates and organic carbon content in topsoil (0–10 cm depth) increased significantly with stand age. With increasing stand age, annual aboveground litterfall production did not differ, while fine-root biomass sampled in June, August, and October increased. Further, microbial biomass carbon in the soil increased in June but decreased when sampled in October. Ridge regression analysis revealed that the weighted percentage of small (0.25 mm ≤ Ø < 2 mm) increased with soil microbial biomass carbon, while that of large aggregates (Ø ≥ 2 mm) increased with fine-root biomass as well as microbial biomass carbon. Our results reveal that soil microbial biomass carbon plays a critical role in the formation of both small and large aggregates, while fine roots enhance the formation of large aggregates. View Full-Text
Keywords: fine-root biomass; stand development; poplar plantation; soil macroaggregates; soil organic carbon fine-root biomass; stand development; poplar plantation; soil macroaggregates; soil organic carbon

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Ge, Z.; Fang, S.; Chen, H.Y.; Zhu, R.; Peng, S.; Ruan, H. Soil Aggregation and Organic Carbon Dynamics in Poplar Plantations. Forests 2018, 9, 508.

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