Impact of land-use on carbon storage as dependent on soil texture: Evidence from a desertified dryland using repeated paired sampling design
Xuehua Ye, Shuangli Tang, William K. Cornwell, Shuqin Gao, Zhenying Huang, Ming Dong, Johannes H.C. Cornelissen
Desertification resulting from land-use affects large dryland areas around the world, accompanied by carbon loss. However it has been difficult to interpret different land-use contributions to carbon pools owing to confounding factors related to climate, topography, soil texture and other original soil properties. To avoid such confounding effects, a unique systematic and extensive repeated design of paired sampling plots of different land-use types was adopted on Ordos Plateau, N China. The sampling enabled to quantify the effects of the predominant land-use types on carbon storage as dependent on soil texture, and to define the most promising land-use choices for carbon storage, both in grassland on sandy soil and in desert grassland on brown calcareous soil. The results showed that (1) desertification control should be an effective measure to improve the carbon sequestration in sandy grassland, and shrub planting should be better than grass planting; (2) development of man-made grassland should be a good choice to solve the contradictions of ecology and economy in desert grassland; (3) grassland on sandy soil is more vulnerable to soil degradation than desert grassland on brown calcareous soil. The results may be useful for the selection of land-use types, aiming at desertification prevention in drylands. Follow-up studies should directly investigate the role of soil texture on the carbon storage dynamic caused by land-use change.