Relative stability of soil carbon revealed by shifts in δ15N and C:N ratio

Conen, F., Zimmermann, M., Leifeld, J., Seth, B., and Alewell, C. (2008) Relative stability of soil carbon revealed by shifts in δ15N and C:N ratio. Biogeosciences, 5 (1). pp. 123-128.

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Life on earth drives a continuous exchange of carbon between soils and the atmosphere. Some forms of soil carbon, or organic matter, are more stable and have a longer residence time in soil than others. Relative differences in stability have often been derived from shifts in δ13C (which is bound to a vegetation change from C3 to C4 type) or through 14C-dating (which is bound to small sample numbers because of high measurement costs). Here, we propose a new concept based on the increase in δ15N and the decrease in C:N ratio with increasing stability. We tested the concept on grasslands at different elevations in the Swiss Alps. Depending on elevation and soil depth, it predicted mineral-associated organic carbon to be 3 to 73 times more stable than particulate organic carbon. Analysis of 14C-ages generally endorsed these predictions.

Item ID: 17749
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1726-4189
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2011 00:52
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050301 Carbon Sequestration Science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9614 Soils > 961499 Soils not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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