The Effects of Tree Species on Soil Organic Carbon Content in South Korea

Ji Yeon Cha, Yoon Kyung Cha, Neung Hwan Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effects of tree species on soil organic carbon (SOC) content have been evaluated in many studies, but only with a relatively small number of sample plots, resulting in ambiguous conclusions. Here we used a total of 595 forest plots in South Korea to investigate the role of four grouped tree species—pines, oaks, other conifers, and other deciduous trees—in the forest SOC content in both forest floors and mineral soils. Significant differences were observed in SOC content among the groups. Pines contained 7.12 Mg C/ha of organic carbon in forest floors, whereas oaks and other deciduous trees contained 5.39 and 5.41 Mg C/ha, respectively. In contrast, oaks and other deciduous trees contained ~66 Mg C/ha of organic carbon each in mineral soils (0- to 30-cm depth), whereas pines contained 49.50 Mg C/ha. The total SOC content including both forest floors and mineral soils was the largest under oaks and the smallest under other coniferous trees, due to SOC being approximately an order of magnitude higher in mineral soils than in forest floors. The effects of tree species on SOC storage became apparent for the forest stands with >20-year-old trees, which suggests that the observed differences in the SOC content are likely due to the current stands rather than remnants of previous stands. The decomposition rates of organic materials could be a controlling factor affecting SOC storage, rather than inputs of photosynthesized products to soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-716
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Volume124
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019

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