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Organic carbon storage in soils of the Basque Country (Spain): the effect of climate, vegetation type and edaphic variables

Ganuza, Amaia, Almendros, Gonzalo
Biology and fertility of soils 2003 v.37 no.3 pp. 154-162
aluminum, carbon sequestration, carbonates, cation exchange capacity, climate change, climatic factors, correlation, forests, land use change, pastures, plantations, protons, sampling, sand, shrublands, soil organic carbon, temperature, texture, topsoil, Spain
This study was performed to identify the environmental factors that control soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in the Basque Country (Northern Spain) and to evaluate the impact of land use change on SOC budget in this territory. A total of 30 samples of the organomineral horizon were taken under representative vegetation types including native forest, coniferous plantations, scrub, pasture and cultures. The edaphic variables measured were organic C content, pH, total N, available P, exchangeable H⁺ and Al³⁺, cation exchange capacity (CEC), texture, and carbonates. The substitution of the original forest with a pasture led to a significant increase in organic C content of the topsoil in all cases studied. Temperature was the main climatic factor affecting the organic C levels in soil, being the two variables negatively correlated. The CEC and texture were other key factors controlling the organic C content, which increased with CEC and decreased with total sand. Average organic C content of the organomineral horizon did not differ significantly (P <0.05) with base content of original substrate nor climate type, but it was more sensitive to climate change in the Atlantic soils than in the Mediterranean ones, where edaphic variables such as CEC and texture were important in regulating C sequestration.