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Changes in litter decomposition and soil organic carbon in a reforested tropical deciduous cover (India)
Abstract and Figures
Soil organic carbon (SOC) up to 1 m depth originates from contemporary vegetation cover dating from past millennia. Deforestation and reforestation with economically important species is influencing soil carbon sequestration. An attempt has been made in this study to evaluate the impact of vegetation cover change (due to replacement of natural heterogeneous cover by teak and bamboo) on SOC using carbon isotopes (δ13C, 14C) in a tropical system (India). A litter decomposition study was carried out to understand the impact of differences in vegetation characteristics (specifically of leaves) on decomposition. Both experiments were carried out to look at the impact of changes in vegetation characteristics (specifically of leaves) on litter decomposition, and how these influence near term litter decomposition rates (k values) and long-term SOC content of the soil system beneath. Leaves of teak, bamboo and eight other species were selected for this study. The proportion of structural carbohydrates (lignin and cellulose) in leaves significantly (at 5 % level) influenced k values. The SOC and carbon isotope data collected in this study indicate that C3 vegetation cover in the study area could be contemporary and dominant for the past few centuries. This can be extended up to ~2,200 years from the recorded 14C values of teak cover. The study confirms that k values of leaf litter influence SOC present beneath the vegetation cover at the decadal/century time scale.
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