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Afforestation and deforestation enhanced soil CH4 uptake in a subtropical agricultural landscape: Evidence from multi-year and multi-site field experiments

Zhou, Minghua, Wang, Xiaoguo, Ren, Xiao, Zhu, Bo
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.662 pp. 313-323
afforestation, ammonium, carbon sequestration, chronosequences, cropland, deforestation, environmental factors, field experimentation, grasslands, land use, methane, methane production, nitrates, secondary forests, soil water, soil water content, subtropics
The impact of afforestation and deforestation on the carbon cycle and carbon sequestration in agricultural landscape has been well studied, while the direction and magnitude of the effects on soil CH4 fluxes remain uncertain in particular in the subtropical region. Thus, multi-site and multi-year field experiments were conducted to measure soil CH4 fluxes from an afforestation chronosequence (cropland [wheat-maize rotation], 15-year old forest, 20-year old forest and 30-year forest) and a deforestation chronosequence (secondary forest, grassland, cropland without fertilization and cropland with fertilization [wheat-maize rotation]) in a subtropical agricultural landscape from 2012 to 2017. The soil at all land uses functioned exclusively as a sink for atmospheric CH4 through the whole experimental years. Soil CH4 uptakes showed great seasonal and inter-annual variations along with those of temporal patterns of soil environmental variables. At the afforestation chronosequence, annual CH4 uptake rates averaged 1.37, 1.68, 1.80 and 2.97 kg C ha−1 yr−1 for cropland, 15-year old forest, 20-year old forest and 30-year old forest. Compared to cropland, afforestation increased annual CH4 uptake by 23 to 117%. Soil CH4 uptake decreased with increasing soil content, soil NH4+ content and soil NO3− content but increased with increasing soil DOC content at the afforestation chronosequence (P < 0.05). At the deforestation chronosequence, annual CH4 uptake rates were 1.37, 1.70, 1.77 and 2.01 kg C ha−1 yr−1 for secondary forest, grassland, cropland without fertilization and cropland with fertilization. Compared to secondary forest, deforestation increased annual CH4 uptake by 24 to 47%. Soil CH4 uptakes were negatively correlated with soil water content and positively correlated with soil NO3− content. We conclude that both afforestation and deforestation have the potential to increase the sink capacities of atmospheric CH4 in the subtropical agricultural landscape and consequently provide the negative feedbacks to climate system.