Land-cover changes not only affect regional climates through alteration in surface energy and water balance, but also affect key ecological processes, such as carbon (C) cycling and sequestration in plant ecosystems. The object of this study was to investigate the effects of land-cover changes on the distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC) contents under four plant community types (deciduous forests, pine forests, mixed pine-deciduous forests, and prairies) in northeastern Illinois, USA. Soil samples were collected from incremental soil depths (0–10, 10–20, 20–30, and 30–50 cm) under the studied plant communities. The results showed that SOC concentration decreased with increases of soil depth in the studied forests and prairies. No significant differences of SOC concentrations were found at the upper soil layers (0–10 cm) among the four plant types. However, SOC concentrations were statistically higher at the lower soil depth (30–40 cm) in prairies than in other three forest types. The SOC storage (0–40 cm soil depth) was reduced in an order prairies (250.6) > mixed pine-deciduous forests (240.7) > pine forests (190.1) > deciduous forests (163.4 Mg/ha). The characteristics of relative short life cycle, restively high turnover rate of roots, and large partition of photosynthetic production allocated to belowground were likely attributed to the higher accumulation of C in soils in tallgrass prairies than in forests. Our data indicated the conversion of native tallgrass prairies to pure forest plantations resulted in a considerable decline of SOC storage. Results suggest that land-cover changes have a significant impact on SOC storage and sequestration in plant ecosystems.
COMMUNICATIONS IN SOIL SCIENCE AND PLANT ANALYSIS
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CHEN, Xiaoyong and D'Arcy, Karen, "Impacts of Plant Community Changes on Soil Carbon Contents in Northeastern Illinois" (2016). Faculty Research and Creative Activity. 38.