Lower soil carbon stocks in exotic vs. native grasslands are driven by carbonate losses

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2020-7
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Xu, Xia
Polley, H. Wayne
Hofmockel, Kirsten
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Wilsey, Brian
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Hall, Steven
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

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The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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2003–present

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Global change includes invasion by exotic (nonnative) plant species and altered precipitation patterns, and these factors may affect terrestrial carbon (C) storage. We measured soil C changes in experimental mixtures of all exotic or all native grassland plant species under two levels of summer drought stress (0 and +128 mm). After 8 yr, soils were sampled in 10-cm increments to 100-cm depth to determine if soil C differed among treatments in deeper soils. Total soil C (organic + inorganic) content was significantly higher under native than exotic plantings, and differences increased with depth. Surprisingly, differences after 8 yr in C were due to carbonate and not organic C fractions, where carbonate was ~250 g C/m2 lower to 1-m soil depth under exotic than native plantings. Our results indicate that soil carbonate is an active pool and can respond to differences in plant species traits over timescales of years. Significant losses of inorganic C might be avoided by conserving native grasslands in subhumid ecosystems.
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This article is published as Wilsey, Brian, Xia Xu, H. Wayne Polley, Kirsten Hofmockel, and Steven J. Hall. "Lower soil carbon stocks in exotic vs. native grasslands are driven by carbonate losses." Ecology 101 (2020): e03039. doi: 10.1002/ecy.3039. Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.

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