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Species and Media Effects on Soil Carbon Dynamics in the Landscape

S. Christopher Marble, Stephen A. Prior, G. Brett Runion, H. Allen Torbert, Charles H. Gilliam, Gleen B. Fain, Jeff L. Sibley, Patricia R. Knight
Scientific reports 2016 v.6 no.25210 pp. 1-9
Cleyera, Crataegus, Loropetalum, Rhaphiolepis, Ternstroemia, biomass, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon sequestration, growing season, landscapes, plant residues, shrubs, soil, soil nutrient dynamics, soil sampling, woody plants
Three woody shrub species [cleyera (Ternstroemia gymnanthera Thunb. ‘Conthery’), Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica L.) and loropetalum (Loropetalum chinensis Oliv.‘Ruby’)] were container-grown for one growing season in 2008 using either pinebark (industry standard), clean chip residual or WholeTree (derived by-products from the forestry industry) as potting substrates and then transplanted into the landscape in 2008. An Automated Carbon Efflux System was used to continually monitor soil CO2 efflux from December 2010 through November 2011 in each species and substrate combination. Changes in soil carbon (C) levels as a result of potting substrate were assessed through soil sampling in 2009 and 2011 and plant biomass was determined at study conclusion. Results showed that soil CO2-C efflux was similar among all species and substrates, with few main effects of species or substrate observed throughout the study. Soil analysis showed that plots with pinebark contained higher levels of soil C in both 2009 and 2011, suggesting that pinebark decomposes slower than clean chip residual or WholeTree and consequently has greater C storage potential than the two alternative substrates. Results showed a net C gain for all species and substrate combinations; however, plants grown in pinebark had greater C sequestration potential.