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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (4): 612-627    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0006-1
Orginal Article     
Characteristics of soil organic carbon and total nitrogen under various grassland types along a transect in a mountain-basin system in Xinjiang, China
Xu BI1, Bo LI1,*(), Bo NAN1, Yao FAN1, Qi FU1, Xinshi ZHANG1,2
1 Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2 Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
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Soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil total nitrogen (STN) in arid regions are important components of global C and the N cycles, and their response to climate change will have important implications for both ecosystem processes and global climate feedbacks. Grassland ecosystems of Funyun County in the southern foot of the Altay Mountains are characterized by complex topography, suggesting large variability in the spatial distribution of SOC and STN. However, there has been little investigation of SOC and STN on grasslands in arid regions with a mountain-basin structure. Therefore, we investigated the characteristics of SOC and STN in different grassland types in a mountain-basin system at the southern foot of the Altai Mountains, north of the Junggar Basin in China, and explored their potential influencing factors and relationships with meteorological factors and soil properties. We found that the concentrations and storages of SOC and STN varied significantly with grassland type, and showed a decreasing trend along a decreasing elevation gradient in alpine meadow, mountain meadow, temperate typical steppe, temperate steppe desert, and temperate steppe desert. In addition, the SOC and STN concentrations decreased with depth, except in the temperate desert steppe. According to Pearson's correlation values and redundancy analysis, the mean annual precipitation, soil moisture content and soil available N concentration were significantly positively correlated with the SOC and STN concentrations. In contrast, the mean annual temperature, pH, and soil bulk density were significantly and negatively correlated with the SOC and STN concentrations. The mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature were the primary factors related to the SOC and STN concentrations. The distributions of the SOC and STN concentrations were highly regulated by the elevation-induced differences in meteorological factors. Mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature together explained 97.85% and 98.38% of the overall variations in the SOC and STN concentrations, respectively, at soil depth of 0-40 cm, with precipitation making the greatest contribution. Our results provide a basis for estimating and predicting SOC and STN concentrations in grasslands in arid regions with a mountain-basin structure.

Key wordsmountain-basin system      grassland types      soil organic carbon      soil total nitrogen      meteorological factors      soil properties     
Received: 26 September 2017      Published: 10 August 2018
Corresponding Authors: Bo LI     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Xu BI, Bo LI, Bo NAN, Yao FAN, Qi FU, Xinshi ZHANG. Characteristics of soil organic carbon and total nitrogen under various grassland types along a transect in a mountain-basin system in Xinjiang, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(4): 612-627.

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