Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Dynamics of ecosystem carbon stocks during vegetation restoration on the Loess Plateau of China


In the last few decades, the Loess Plateau had experienced an extensive vegetation restoration to reduce soil erosion and to improve the degraded ecosystems. However, the dynamics of ecosystem carbon stocks with vegetation restoration in this region are poorly understood. This study examined the changes of carbon stocks in mineral soil (0–100 cm), plant biomass and the ecosystem (plant and soil) following vegetation restoration with different models and ages. Our results indicated that cultivated land returned to native vegetation (natural restoration) or artificial forest increased ecosystem carbon sequestration. Tree plantation sequestered more carbon than natural vegetation succession over decades scale due to the rapid increase in biomass carbon pool. Restoration ages had different effects on the dynamics of biomass and soil carbon stocks. Biomass carbon stocks increased with vegetation restoration age, while the dynamics of soil carbon stocks were affected by sampling depth. Ecosystem carbon stocks consistently increased after tree plantation regardless of the soil depth; but an initial decrease and then increase trend was observed in natural restoration chronosequences with the soil sampling depth of 0–100 cm. Moreover, there was a time lag of about 15–30 years between biomass production and soil carbon sequestration in 0–100 cm, which indicated a long-term effect of vegetation restoration on deeper soil carbon sequestration.


ages; carbon stocks; natural vegetation restoration; tree plantation; Loess Plateau

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