Spatial heterogeneity in the relocation of added C-13 within the structure of an upland grassland soil

Grieve, Ian C.; Davidson, Donald A.; Ostle, Nicholas J.; Bruneau, Patricia M.C.; Fallick, Anthony E.. 2006 Spatial heterogeneity in the relocation of added C-13 within the structure of an upland grassland soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38 (2). 229-234.

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A pulse of 13CO2 was added to the above ground vegetation in an upland grassland to determine the effects of faunal diversity on the flux of carbon to the surface horizons of the soil. Faunal diversity was manipulated by liming and biocide treatments for three years prior to the pulse addition. The relocation of 13C within roots and rhizosphere soil was determined by analysis of samples of bulk soil and of specific features identified on soil thin sections on four dates after the addition of the 13CO2 pulse. Analysis of bulk soils showed only a small enrichment in 13C and no significant effects of the treatments. Analysis by isotope ratio mass spectrometry of the products of in situ laser combustion of root material and aggregates formed from faunal excrement showed that the distribution of the newly photosynthesised 13C is very localised, with large spatial variability in soil and root δ13C at scales of less than 1 mm. δ13C values ranged from the natural abundance level of around −28‰ to −4.9‰ in roots and to −8.4‰ in aggregates. The small pulse and large spatial variability masked any effects of the liming and biocide treatments in these soils. However, the variability in the relocation of newly photosynthesised carbon may help to explain the large spatial variability found in bacterial numbers at the sub-mm scale within soils and emphasises the importance of the accessibility of substrates to decomposers in undisturbed structured soils.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > BG01 Measuring and modelling trace gas, aerosol and carbon > BG01.2 Carbon
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0038-0717
Additional Keywords: Carbon cycling, Stable carbon isotope, Soil aggregates, Soil fauna, Spatial variability
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 09 Jul 2009 09:54 +0 (UTC)

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