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Soil carbon dynamics following afforestation of a tropical savannah with Eucalyptus in Congo

Epron D., Marsden C., Thongo M'Bou A., Saint André L., D'Annunzio R., Nouvellon Y.. 2009. Plant and Soil, 323 (1-2) : p. 309-322.

Soil organic matter is a key factor in the global carbon cycle, but the magnitude and the direction of the change in soil carbon after afforestation with Eucalyptus in the tropics is still a matter of controversy. The objective of this work was to understand the dynamics of soil carbon in intensively managed Eucalyptus plantations after the afforestation of a native savannah. The isotopic composition (?) of soil carbon (C) and soil CO2 efflux (F) were measured on a four-age chronosequence of Eucalyptus and on an adjacent savannah. ?F was used to partition F between a C3 component and a C4 component, the latter corresponding to the decomposition of a labile pool of savannah-derived soil carbon (CSL). The mean residence time of CSL was 4.6 years. This further allowed us to partition the savannah-derived soil carbon into a labile and a stable (CSS) carbon pool. CSL accounted for 30% of soil carbon in the top soil of the savannah (0-5 cm), and only 12% when the entire 0-45 cm soil layer was considered. The decrease in CSL with time after plantation was more than compensated by an increase in Eucalyptus-derived carbon, and half of the newly incorporated Eucalyptus-derived carbon in the top soil was associated with the clay and fine silt fractions in the 14-year-old. stand. Increment in soil carbon after afforestation of tropical savannah with Eucalyptus is therefore expected despite a rapid disappearance of the labile savannah-derived carbon because a large fraction of savannah-derived carbon is stable. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : extension forestière; plantation forestière; savane; carbone; matière organique du sol; zone tropicale; plantations; sol tropical; eucalyptus; congo; reboisement d'extension

Thématique : Chimie et physique du sol; Production forestière

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