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Drivers of soil carbon in residential ‘pure lawns’ in Auburn, Alabama

Huyler, Ann, Chappelka, Arthur H., Prior, Stephen A., Somers, Greg L.
Urban ecosystems 2014 v.17 no.1 pp. 205
carbon, Alabama, urban areas, subtropics, soil texture, residential areas, nitrogen, land use, irrigation, chronosequences, carbon sequestration, ecosystems, lawns and turf, mulching, residential housing, soil depth, soil nutrient dynamics, trees
Urban land area is expanding worldwide and may contribute to long-term carbon (C) storage; however, little is known about potential drivers of soil C in urban areas. Residential areas are one of the largest urban land use zones and lawns can provide stable chronosequences for studying soil C dynamics. In residential lawns containing no trees (n = 23), the relationships between soil C and four potential drivers [home age (1–51 years), yard maintenance practices (fertilization, irrigation, and bagging or mulching lawn clippings), soil nitrogen (N) and soil texture] were investigated. Soil C increased with home age at 0–15 cm depth by 0.026 kg C m⁻² yr⁻¹, declined by −0.011 kg C m⁻² yr⁻¹at 15–30 cm depth, and was stable at 30–50 cm depth. Soil C had a positive relationship with soil N (R² = 0.55) at the 0–15 cm depth. Soil C and N were not related to yard maintenance practices or soil texture. The low soil C sequestration rate and limited relationships between soil C and home age, yard maintenance, soil N and soil texture may have resulted from the positive influence of Auburn’s humid, subtropical climate on residue decomposition.