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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-2020-63
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-63
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 17 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Interactions between biogeochemical and management factors explain soil organic carbon in Pyrenean grasslands

Antonio Rodríguez1,2, Rosa Maria Canals3, Josefina Plaixats4, Elena Albanell4, Haifa Debouk1,2, Jordi Garcia-Pausas5, Leticia San Emeterio6,7, Juan José Jimenez8, and M.-Teresa Sebastià1,2 Antonio Rodríguez et al.
  • 1Group GAMES andDepartment of Horticulture, Botany and Landscaping, School of Agrifood and Forestry Science and Engineering, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain
  • 2Laboratory of Functional Ecology and Global Change (ECOFUN), Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), Solsona, Spain
  • 3Grupo Ecología y Medio Ambiente and ISFood Institute, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Campus Arrosadia, Pamplona, Spain
  • 4Group of Ruminant Research (G2R), Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain
  • 5Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), Solsona, Spain
  • 6Research Institute on Innovation & Sustainable Development in Food Chain (ISFOOD), Universidad Pública de Navarra, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
  • 7Departamento de Agronomía, Biotecnología y Alimentación, Universidad Pública de Navarra, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
  • 8ARAID/IPE-CSIC, 22700, Huesca, Spain

Abstract. Grasslands are one of the major sinks of terrestrial soil organic carbon (SOC). Understanding how environmental and management factors drive SOC is challenging because they are scale-dependent, with large scale drivers affecting SOC both directly and through drivers working at detailed spatial scales. Here we addressed how regional, landscape and grazing management, soil properties and nutrients and herbage quality factors affect SOC in mountain grasslands in the Pyrenees. Taking advantage of the high variety of environmental heterogeneity in the Pyrenees, we fit a set of models with explicative purposes using data that comprise a wide range of environmental and management conditions. We found that temperature seasonality (MMT) was the most important geophysical driver of SOC in our study. MMT was positively related to SOC but only under certain local conditions: exposed hillsides, steep slopes and relatively highly grazed areas. High MMT conditions probably are more favourable for plant biomass production, but landscape and grazing management factors buffer the accumulation of this biomass into SOC. Concerning biochemical SOC predictors, we obtained some surprising, interactive effects between grazer type, soil nutrients and herbage quality. Soil N was a crucial factor modulating effects of livestock species and neutral detergent fibre content of plant biomass and herbage recalcitrance effects varied depending on grazer species. These results highlight the gaps in the knowledge about SOC drivers in grassland under different environmental and management conditions, and they may serve to generate testable hypothesis in latter studies directed to climate change mitigation policies.

Antonio Rodríguez et al.

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Antonio Rodríguez et al.

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Latest update: 05 Apr 2020
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Short summary
The novelty of our work is that it presents a series of potential interactions between drivers of soil organic carbon at broad scales in temperate mountain grasslands. Probably the most relevant contribution of our work is that it illustrates the importance of grazing management for soil carbon stocks, indicating that interactions between grazing species and soil nitrogen and herbage quality may be promising paths in order to design further management policies for palliating climate change.
The novelty of our work is that it presents a series of potential interactions between drivers...
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