Carbon Cycle and Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation in Land Ecosystems

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2023) | Viewed by 12000

Special Issue Editors

Research Institute on Terrestrial Ecosystems, Research National Council, Viale G. Marconi 2, 05010 Porano, Italy
Interests: carbon balance in grassland and tundra ecosystems; impact of management on carbon sequestration; stress physiology; carbon allocation in plant-soil system
Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University, 6707 Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: soil carbon; soil respiration; soil functioning; ecosystem services; urban environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The approval of the 1.5 °C warming target by the Glasgow Climate Pact in COP26 rises the importance of the adaptation of negative emission technologies. By now, the only efficient mechanism which the humanity possess for the removal of the CO2 from the atmosphere is to rely on natural C sinks. Sequestration of carbon in land ecosystems is thus one of the major climate mitigation options. It requires the conservation of carbon stocks, vegetation and soil, and their potentiation through appropriate management strategies. In this sense, mitigation and adaptation capacities are intimately linked. Climate change and anthropogenic pressure impact land ecosystems, affect the carbon uptake and carbon emissions as well as the sink–source relationships in terms of carbon transfer, often weakening the capacity of the system to store carbon. On the other hand, sustainable soil and forest management, the restoration of degraded lands, sustainable agricultural practices, agroforestry, extension and management of urban green, and the protection and restoration of peatlands and wetlands can help the ecosystems to withstand the accelerated environmental variation and contribute to the final achievement of the ambitious 1.5 °C goal.

This Special Issue will highlight the capacity of different land ecosystems, natural, semi-natural, and anthropogenic, to store C under the climate change conditions, will underline the mechanisms of ecosystems’ positive and negative responses, and will review the impact of different management strategies on C sequestration capacity in vegetation and soil compartments. We welcome original research papers and reviews conducted from plot, ecosystem, to regional scale, based on experimental, theoretical, and modeling approaches.

Dr. Olga Gavrichkova
Dr. Viacheslav Vasenev
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Ecosystem
  • Vegetation
  • Soil
  • Carbon balance
  • CO2 uptake
  • CO2 emissions
  • Carbon allocation
  • Impact of global changes
  • Management
  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Stress
  • Land use change
  • New assessment tools

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

17 pages, 3780 KiB  
Article
Tree Biomass and Leaf Area Allometric Relations for Betula pendula Roth Based on Samplings in the Western Carpathians
Plants 2023, 12(8), 1607; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12081607 - 10 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1003
Abstract
Biomass allometric relations are necessary for precise estimations of biomass forest stocks, as well as for the quantification of carbon sequestered by forest cover. Therefore, we attempted to create allometric models of total biomass in young silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) trees and [...] Read more.
Biomass allometric relations are necessary for precise estimations of biomass forest stocks, as well as for the quantification of carbon sequestered by forest cover. Therefore, we attempted to create allometric models of total biomass in young silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) trees and their main components, i.e., leaves, branches, stem under bark, bark, and roots. The models were based on data from 180 sample trees with ages up to 15 years originating from natural regeneration at eight sites in the Western Carpathians (Slovakia). Sample trees represented individuals with stem base diameters (diameter D0) from about 4.0 to 113.0 mm and tree heights between 0.4 to 10.7 m. Each tree component was dried to constant mass and weighed. Moreover, subsamples of leaves (15 pieces of each tree) were scanned, dried, and weighed. Thus, we also obtained data for deriving a model expressing total leaf area at the tree level. The allometric models were in the form of regression relations using diameter D0 or tree height as predictors. The models, for instance, showed that while the total tree biomass of birches with a D0 of 50 mm (and a tree height of 4.06 m) was about 1653 g, the total tree biomass of those with a D0 of 100 mm (tree height 6.79 m) reached as much as 8501 g. Modeled total leaf areas for the trees with the above-mentioned dimensions were 2.37 m2 and 8.54 m2, respectively. The results prove that diameter D0 was a better predictor than tree height for both models of tree component biomass and total leaf area. Furthermore, we found that the contribution of individual tree components to total biomass changed with tree size. Specifically, while shares of leaves and roots decreased, those of all other components, especially stems with bark, increased. The derived allometric relations may be implemented for the calculation of biomass stock in birch-dominant or birch-admixed stands in the Western Carpathians or in other European regions, especially where no species- and region-specific models are available. Full article
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24 pages, 5402 KiB  
Article
Twenty-Seven Year Response of South Carolina Coastal Plain Forests Affected by Hurricane Hugo
Plants 2023, 12(4), 691; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040691 - 04 Feb 2023
Viewed by 996
Abstract
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo inflicted catastrophic damage on approximately 1.8 million ha of forested land in South Carolina. The purpose of this study was to monitor species compositional shifts and structural changes in several forest types following the hurricane’s disturbance. The immediate consequences [...] Read more.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo inflicted catastrophic damage on approximately 1.8 million ha of forested land in South Carolina. The purpose of this study was to monitor species compositional shifts and structural changes in several forest types following the hurricane’s disturbance. The immediate consequences of hurricane damage are well documented, but there are few studies based on the long-term compositional and structural changes that may result from hurricane disturbance, especially in temperate forest ecosystems. Forty-two forested plots were monitored within four study areas that received varying degrees of hurricane damage. Inventories included species, damage class, tree diameter, and regeneration. The objectives of this study were (1) to compare the recovery speed of wetland forests (e.g., bottomland hardwood swamps and cypress-tupelo swamps) to that of upland pine and hardwood forests; (2) to discover how the degree of hurricane damage can affect the timing and the pattern of forest recovery in the coastal plain; and (3) to compare individual species response patterns across different forest types and at different levels of initial damage. Over the 27-year period following the hurricane, successional pathways have been variable among plots of different forest types and intensity of initial disturbance. We have observed an expected increase in basal area (BA) following the disturbance. Sapling populations in many species have increased dramatically, and some of these populations have begun to thin in recent years. In several forest types, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.—not a predominant species in these sites prior to the hurricane) responded quickly and overtook some dominant species in BA and tree/sapling abundance. Several other species that were not a major component of the tree strata (wax myrtle [Morella cerifera (L.) Small], green ash [Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.], and the invasive Chinese tallow [Triadica sebifera (L.) Small]) showed a large increase in sapling population. Overall, recovery speed and species resilience were specific to forest types and damage severity. The intensity and frequency of hurricanes may increase in the future as sea surface temperatures rise. Understanding how coastal forests respond to major hurricanes in the short-term and the long-term will aid us in preparing for future hurricanes and for potential changes in disturbance regimes. Full article
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22 pages, 1386 KiB  
Article
Perennial Crops Can Compensate for Low Soil Carbon Inputs from Maize in Ley-Arable Systems
Plants 2023, 12(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12010029 - 21 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1344
Abstract
(1) Background: Soil organic carbon (SOC) in agricultural soils plays a crucial role in mitigating global climate change but also, and maybe more importantly, in soil fertility and thus food security. Therefore, the influence of contrasting cropping systems on SOC not only in [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Soil organic carbon (SOC) in agricultural soils plays a crucial role in mitigating global climate change but also, and maybe more importantly, in soil fertility and thus food security. Therefore, the influence of contrasting cropping systems on SOC not only in the topsoil, but also in the subsoil, needs to be understood. (2) Methods: In this study, we analyzed SOC content and δ13C values from a crop rotation experiment for biogas production, established in southern Germany in 2004. We compared two crop rotations, differing in their proportions of maize (0 vs. 50%) and perennial legume–grass leys as main crops (75 vs. 25%). Maize was cultivated with an undersown white clover. Both rotations had an unfertilized variant and a variant that was fertilized with biogas digestate according to the nutrient demand of crops. Sixteen years after the experiment was established, the effects of crop rotation, fertilization, and soil depth on SOC were analyzed. Furthermore, we defined a simple carbon balance model to estimate the dynamics of δ13C in soil. Simulations were compared to topsoil data (0–30 cm) from 2009, 2017, and 2020, and to subsoil data (30–60 cm) from 2020. (3) Results: Crop rotation and soil depth had significant effects, but fertilization had no effect on SOC content and δ13C. SOC significantly differed between the two crop rotations regarding δ13C in both depths but not regarding content. Annual enrichment in C4 (maize) carbon was 290, 34, 353, and 70 kg C ha−1 per maize year in the topsoil and subsoil of the unfertilized and fertilized treatments, respectively. These amounts corresponded to carbon turnover rates of 0.8, 0.3, 0.9, and 0.5% per maize year. Despite there being 50% maize in the rotation, maize carbon only accounted for 20% of the observed carbon sequestration in the topsoil. Even with pre-defined parameter values, the simple carbon model reproduced observed δ13C well. The optimization of model parameters decreased the carbon use efficiency of digestate carbon in the soil, as well as the response of belowground carbon allocation to increased aboveground productivity of maize. (4) Conclusions: Two main findings resulted from this combination of measurement and modelling: (i) the retention of digestate carbon in soil was low and its effect on δ13C was negligible, and (ii) soil carbon inputs from maize only responded slightly to increased above-ground productivity. We conclude that SOC stocks in silage maize rotations can be preserved or enhanced if leys with perennial crops are included that compensate for the comparably low maize carbon inputs. Full article
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15 pages, 1904 KiB  
Article
Climate Controls on the Spatial Variability of Vegetation Greenup Rate across Ecosystems in Northern Hemisphere
Plants 2022, 11(21), 2971; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11212971 - 03 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1213
Abstract
Variations in individual phenological events in response to global change have received considerable attentions. However, the development of phenological stages is relatively neglected, especially based on in situ observation data. In this study, the rate of vegetation greenup (Vgreenup) across the Northern Hemisphere [...] Read more.
Variations in individual phenological events in response to global change have received considerable attentions. However, the development of phenological stages is relatively neglected, especially based on in situ observation data. In this study, the rate of vegetation greenup (Vgreenup) across the Northern Hemisphere was examined for different plant functional types (PFTs) by using eddy covariance flux data from 40 sites (417 site-years). Then, the controls of climatic variables on the spatial distribution of Vgreenup across PFTs were further investigated. The mean Vgreenup was 0.22 ± 0.11 g C m−2 day−2 across all sites, with the largest and lowest values observed in cropland and evergreen needle-leaf forest, respectively. A strong latitude dependence by Vgreenup was observed in both Europe and North America. The spatial variations of Vgreenup were jointly regulated by the duration of greenup (Dgreenup) and the amplitude of greenup (Agreenup). However, the predominant factor was Dgreenup in Europe, which changed to Agreenup in North America. Spring climatic factors exerted significant influences on the spatial distribution of Vgreenup across PFTs. Specifically, increasing temperature tended to shorten Dgreenup and promote Agreenup simultaneously, resulting in an acceleration of Vgreenup. Dryness had a depression effect on Vgreenup for the whole study area, as exhibited by a lower Vgreenup with increasing vapor pressure deficit or decreasing soil moisture. However, Vgreenup in North America was only significantly and positively correlated with temperature. Without the limitation of other climatic factors, the temperature sensitivity of Vgreenup was higher in North America (0.021 g C m−2 day−2 °C−1) than in Europe (0.015 g C m−2 day−2 °C−1). This study provides new cognitions for Vgreenup dynamics from in situ observations in complement to satellite observations, which can improve our understanding of terrestrial carbon cycles. Full article
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8 pages, 1285 KiB  
Communication
Temperature Sensitivity of Topsoil Organic Matter Decomposition Does Not Depend on Vegetation Types in Mountains
Plants 2022, 11(20), 2765; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11202765 - 19 Oct 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1214
Abstract
Rising air temperatures caused by global warming affects microbial decomposition rate of soil organic matter (SOM). The temperature sensitivity of SOM decomposition (Q10) may depend on SOM quality determined by vegetation type. In this study, we selected a long transect (3.6 [...] Read more.
Rising air temperatures caused by global warming affects microbial decomposition rate of soil organic matter (SOM). The temperature sensitivity of SOM decomposition (Q10) may depend on SOM quality determined by vegetation type. In this study, we selected a long transect (3.6 km) across the five ecosystems and short transects (0.1 km) from grazed and ungrazed meadows to forests in the Northwest Caucasus to consider different patterns in Q10 changes at shift of the vegetation belts. It is hypothesized that Q10 will increase along altitudinal gradient in line with recalcitrance of SOM according to kinetics-based theory. The indicators of SOM quality (BR:C, respiration per unit of soil C; MBC:C, ratio of microbial biomass carbon to soil carbon; soil C:N ratio) were used for checking the hypothesis. It was shown that Q10 did not differ across vegetation types within long and short transects, regardless differences in projective cover (14–99%) and vegetation species richness (6–12 units per plot). However, Q10 value differed between the long and short transects by almost two times (on average 2.4 vs. 1.4). Such a difference was explained by environmental characteristics linked with terrain position (slope steepness, microclimate, and land forms). The Q10 changes across studied slopes were driven by BR:C for meadows (R2 = 0.64; negative relationship) and pH value for forests (R2 = 0.80; positive relationship). Thus, proxy of SOM quality explained Q10 variability only across mountain meadows, whereas for forests, soil acidity was the main driver of microbial activity. Full article
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25 pages, 3575 KiB  
Article
Consequences of Grazing Cessation for Soil Environment and Vegetation in a Subalpine Grassland Ecosystem
Plants 2022, 11(16), 2121; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11162121 - 15 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1655
Abstract
Areas covered by seminatural grasslands have been in constant decline for decades in Europe. This trend is particularly strong for mountain territories, where such traditional agricultural practices as cattle grazing are no longer economically feasible. This study was conducted in the subalpine pasture [...] Read more.
Areas covered by seminatural grasslands have been in constant decline for decades in Europe. This trend is particularly strong for mountain territories, where such traditional agricultural practices as cattle grazing are no longer economically feasible. This study was conducted in the subalpine pasture of Cinte Tesino (TN, Italy), where local farmers have applied the following different management strategies: shorter and longer grazing durations during the season and a complete abandonment for the last 15 years. We aimed to study how these different management strategies impact the functioning and diversity of vegetation and the chemical and biological characteristics of the soil. Species richness was higher in plots subjected to longer grazing with a prevalence of D. caespitosa in terms of biomass share. A decline in species richness in abandoned plots was accompanied by an increase in the share of other graminoids in collected biomass. A concomitant increase in leaf N concentration and light availability in grazed plots resulted in higher photosynthetic efficiency in some species, as revealed by the δ13C of plant tissues. Soils under grazing were characterised by a higher concentration of total and extractable N, almost doubled microbial biomass C and increased extracellular enzymes activity, evidencing nutrient cycling mobilization. While the microbial pool was characterised by lower mineralization rates, C was lost from the soil with 15 years of abandonment. The longer grazing season demonstrated to be the most beneficial, promoting species richness, C accumulation and better soil microbial functioning. A change in soil pH from strongly acidic to moderately acidic with longer grazing is likely one of the important factors adding to the success in the functioning of primary producers and decomposers in this site. Full article
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Review

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24 pages, 1218 KiB  
Review
Carbon Sequestration in Turfgrass–Soil Systems
Plants 2022, 11(19), 2478; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11192478 - 22 Sep 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3727
Abstract
Plants are key components of the terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle. Atmospheric CO2 is assimilated through photosynthesis and stored in plant biomass and in the soil. The use of turfgrass is expanding due to the increasing human population and urbanization. In this review, [...] Read more.
Plants are key components of the terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle. Atmospheric CO2 is assimilated through photosynthesis and stored in plant biomass and in the soil. The use of turfgrass is expanding due to the increasing human population and urbanization. In this review, we summarize recent carbon sequestration research in turfgrass and compare turfgrass systems to other plant systems. The soil organic carbon (SOC) stored in turfgrass systems is comparable to that in other natural and agricultural systems. Turfgrass systems are generally carbon-neutral or carbon sinks, with the exception of intensively managed areas, such as golf course greens and athletic fields. Turfgrass used in other areas, such as golf course fairways and roughs, parks, and home lawns, has the potential to contribute to carbon sequestration if proper management practices are implemented. High management inputs can increase the biomass productivity of turfgrass but do not guarantee higher SOC compared to low management inputs. Additionally, choosing the appropriate turfgrass species that are well adapted to the local climate and tolerant to stresses can maximize CO2 assimilation and biomass productivity, although other factors, such as soil respiration, can considerably affect SOC. Future research is needed to document the complete carbon footprint, as well as to identify best management practices and appropriate turfgrass species to enhance carbon sequestration in turfgrass systems. Full article
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