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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-251
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-251
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 23 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 23 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Leaf wax n-alkane pattern and compound-specific δ13C of plants and topsoils from semi-arid Mongolia

Julian Struck1, Marcel Bliedtner1,2, Paul Strobel1, Jens Schumacher3, Enkhtuya Bazarradnaa4, and Roland Zech1 Julian Struck et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Löbdergraben 32, 07743 Jena, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geography and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 12, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Institute of Mathematics, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Ernst-Abbe-Platz 2, 07743 Jena, Germany
  • 4Institute of Plant and Agricultural Sciences, Mongolian University of Life Sciences, Mongolia

Abstract. n-Alkane pattern and their compound-specific δ13C signatures are valuable proxies for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. So far, their potential has not been investigated in semi-arid to arid regions. We have therefore analysed the leaf wax n-alkanes and their compound-specific δ13C of five plant species (Poaceae, Cyperaceae, Artemisia spp., Caragana spp. and Larix sp.), and topsoils (0–5 cm) along two transects in central and southern Mongolia. Grasses depict a distinct dominance of the n-C31 homologue, whereas Caragana spp. and Artemisia spp. are dominated by n-C29. Larix sp. is characterized by the mid-chain n-alkanes n-C23 and n-C25. From plant to soil, n-alkane homologue pattern show the potential to differentiate between grass covered sites from those covered by Caragana spp. n-Alkane concentrations and OEP values of the topsoils are distinctly influenced by mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation and aridity, likely reflecting the degree of n-alkane degradation and biomass production. In contrast, the n-alkane average chain-length and the n-alkane ratio (n-C31 / n-C29 + n-C31) are not affected by climatic parameters. The compound-specific δ13C signatures are strongly corelated to climate, showing a significant enrichment with increasing aridity, indicating the effect of water use efficiency. Our calibration results suggest that long-chain n-alkanes and their compound-specific δ13C signatures have great potential to reconstruct paleoenvironmental and -climatic conditions when used in sediment archives from Mongolia.

Julian Struck et al.
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Short summary
We present leaf wax n-alkanes and their compound-specific (CS) δ13C isotopes from semi-arid Mongolia to test their potential for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Plants and topsoils were analysed and checked for climatic control. Chain-length variations are distinct between grasses and Caragana, which are not biased by climate. Whereas CS δ13C is strongly correlated to climate. Thus, n-alkanes and their CS δ13C show a great potential for paleoenvironmental reconstructions in Mongolia.
We present leaf wax n-alkanes and their compound-specific (CS) δ13C isotopes from semi-arid...
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