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Journal of Arid Land  2023, Vol. 15 Issue (3): 344-358    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0093-5
Research article     
Reclamation during oasification is conducive to the accumulation of the soil organic carbon pool in arid land
YANG Yuxin1,2, GONG Lu1,2,3,*(), TANG Junhu1,2
1College of Ecology and Environment, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830017, China
2Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology, Ministry of Education, Urumqi 830017, China
3Xinjiang Jinghe Observation and Research Station of Temperate Desert Ecosystem, Ministry of Education, Urumqi 830017, China
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Soil organic carbon (SOC) and its stable isotope composition reflect key information about the carbon cycle in ecosystems. Studies of carbon fractions in oasis continuous cotton-cropped fields can elucidate the SOC stability mechanism under the action of the human-land relationship during the oasification of arid land, which is critical for understanding the carbon dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems in arid lands under global climate change. In this study, we investigated the Alar Reclamation Area on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, in 2020. In original desert and oasis farmlands with different reclamation years, including 6, 10, 18, and 30 a, and different soil depths (0-20, 20-40, 40-60 cm), we analyzed the variations in SOC, very liable carbon (CVL), liable carbon (CL), less liable carbon (CLL), and non-liable carbon (CNL) using the method of spatial series. The differences in the stable carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) and beta (β) values reflecting the organic carbon decomposition rate were also determined during oasification. Through redundancy analysis, we derived and discussed the relationships among SOC, carbon fractions, δ13C, and other soil physicochemical properties, such as the soil water content (SWC), bulk density (BD), pH, total salt (TS), total nitrogen (TN), available phosphorus (AP), and available potassium (AK). The results showed that there were significant differences in SOC and carbon fractions of oasis farmlands with different reclamation years, and the highest SOC was observed at the oasis farmland with 30-a reclamation year. CVL, CL, CLL, and CNL showed significant changes among oasis farmlands with different reclamation years, and CVL had the largest variation range (0.40-4.92 g/kg) and accounted for the largest proportion in the organic carbon pool. The proportion of CNL in the organic carbon pool of the topsoil (0-20 cm) gradually increased. δ13C varied from -25.61‰ to -22.58‰, with the topsoil showing the most positive value at the oasis farmland with 10-a reclamation year; while the β value was the lowest at the oasis farmland with 6-a reclamation year and then increased significantly. Based on the redundancy analysis results, the soil physicochemical properties, such as TN, AP, AK, and pH, were significantly correlated with CL, and TN and AP were positively correlated with CVL. However, δ13C was not significantly influenced by soil physicochemical properties. Our analysis advances the understanding of SOC dynamics during oasification, revealing the risk of soil carbon loss and its contribution to terrestrial carbon accumulation in arid lands, which could be useful for the sustainable development of regional carbon resources and ecological protection in arid ecosystem.

Key wordsoasification      soil organic carbon      carbon fractions      labile carbon      δ13C      arid land     
Received: 15 October 2022      Published: 31 March 2023
Corresponding Authors: * GONG Lu (E-mail:
Cite this article:

YANG Yuxin, GONG Lu, TANG Junhu. Reclamation during oasification is conducive to the accumulation of the soil organic carbon pool in arid land. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(3): 344-358.

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tion year
Soil depth
SWC (%) BD (g/cm3) pH TS (g/kg) TN (g/kg) AP (mg/kg) AK (mg/kg)
CK 0-20 10.62±1.50 1.37±0.04 8.66±0.14 18.31±14.26 0.25±0.03 2.99±0.35 164.53±19.42
20-40 12.18±1.60 1.36±0.05 8.39±0.14 9.98±1.65 0.20±0.04 3.73±0.95 170.22±18.46
40-60 13.69±1.73 1.43±0.05 8.31±0.04 6.28±0.73 0.24±0.03 3.59±0.50 162.49±22.87
6-a 0-20 18.68±1.32 1.29±0.04 8.07±0.05 6.53±3.54 0.37±0.03 18.33±5.89 185.81±31.15
20-40 24.96±1.79 1.27±0.03 8.04±0.03 2.23±1.26 0.32±0.03 19.85±4.94 177.88±16.29
40-60 26.25±1.41 1.40±0.04 8.15±0.11 1.59±0.50 0.26±0.03 11.15±2.09 171.90±21.23
10-a 0-20 21.29±1.57 1.25±0.02 7.96±0.12 7.41±4.68 0.56±0.03 28.27±3.99 229.31±49.75
20-40 26.09±1.49 1.27±0.03 7.98±0.03 2.51±0.71 0.46±0.07 21.20±4.45 201.76±96.14
40-60 28.69±2.61 1.28±0.04 8.01±0.07 1.98±0.80 0.37±0.09 17.84±3.95 211.91±65.23
18-a 0-20 20.88±0.99 1.28±0.02 7.92±0.21 14.01±5.37 0.55±0.06 30.53±5.09 213.26±23.62
20-40 25.49±1.53 1.27±0.05 7.82±0.23 6.76±2.77 0.54±0.04 22.80±5.41 227.52±27.83
40-60 28.59±2.35 1.26±0.02 7.81±0.19 2.14±0.22 0.41±0.05 14.85±2.11 211.34±17.06
30-a 0-20 21.80±1.56 1.32±0.04 7.80±0.13 16.29±5.33 0.58±0.05 31.30±1.66 211.08±42.75
20-40 24.62±1.15 1.33±0.02 7.81±0.04 8.35±3.85 0.47±0.09 21.54±4.17 208.82±31.43
40-60 24.72±1.69 1.36±0.02 7.82±0.17 4.24±0.53 0.33±0.04 15.51±2.80 205.05±20.43
Table 1 Variations of physicochemical properties in different reclamation years and soil depths
Source Controlled variable Sum of square df Mean square F value P value
SWC Reclamation year 1093.22 4 273.31 98.32 <0.01
Soil depth 259.77 2 129.88 46.72 <0.01
Reclamation year×Soil depth 44.19 8 5.52 1.99 0.08
BD Reclamation year 0.07 4 0.02 14.35 <0.01
Soil depth 0.01 2 0.01 4.68 0.02
Reclamation year×Soil depth 0.02 8 0.01 2.56 0.03
pH Reclamation year 2.40 4 0.60 35.73 <0.01
Soil depth 0.05 2 0.02 1.37 0.27
Reclamation year×Soil depth 0.20 8 0.03 1.51 0.19
TS Reclamation year 443.60 4 110.90 5.13 0.03
Soil depth 679.98 2 339.99 15.74 <0.01
Reclamation year×Soil depth 84.58 8 10.57 0.49 0.85
TN Reclamation year 0.49 4 0.12 49.93 <0.01
Soil depth 0.14 2 0.07 29.75 <0.01
Reclamation year×Soil depth 0.06 8 0.01 3.18 0.01
AP Reclamation year 2506.30 4 626.58 46.14 <0.01
Soil depth 705.92 2 352.96 25.99 <0.01
Reclamation year×Soil depth 343.52 8 42.94 3.16 0.01
AK Reclamation year 19450.03 4 4862.51 3.07 0.31
Soil depth 514.99 2 257.50 0.16 0.85
Reclamation year×Soil depth 1563.37 8 195.42 0.12 0.99
Table 2 Effects of reclamation year, soil depth, and their interaction on soil physicochemical properties
Reclamation year Soil depth (cm) CVL (g/kg) CL (g/kg) CLL (g/kg) CNL (g/kg) SOC (g/kg)
CK 0-20 0.66±0.12 0.21±0.05 0.40±0.08 0.29±0.07 1.44±0.21
20-40 0.53±0.17 0.19±0.01 0.24±0.14 0.36±0.18 0.93±0.24
40-60 0.40±0.08 0.08±0.01 0.12±0.03 0.77±0.33 1.20±0.32
6-a 0-20 1.56±0.06 0.72±0.30 0.08±0.02 0.60±0.28 2.99±0.20
20-40 1.04±0.14 0.28±0.08 0.04±0.01 0.64±0.01 1.88±0.38
40-60 0.61±0.05 0.16±0.08 0.05±0.02 0.48±0.07 1.30±0.18
10-a 0-20 2.13±0.39 0.56±0.36 0.45±0.20 0.72±0.28 3.86±0.83
20-40 1.46±0.60 0.74±0.44 0.19±0.09 0.51±0.18 2.90±1.12
40-60 0.82±0.05 0.64±0.24 0.32±0.18 0.29±0.07 2.07±0.08
18-a 0-20 1.80±0.28 0.84±0.28 0.13±0.05 0.96±0.14 3.67±0.21
20-40 1.24±1.07 1.44±0.90 0.29±0.18 0.66±0.28 3.24±1.02
40-60 0.74±0.70 0.59±0.33 0.37±0.14 0.37±0.12 2.07±1.75
30-a 0-20 4.34±0.47 1.97±0.41 0.56±0.08 3.62±0.59 10.48±0.59
20-40 4.92±0.64 0.98±0.51 0.64±0.14 3.08±0.53 9.63±0.53
40-60 0.60±1.12 1.49±0.48 0.64±0.14 2.15±1.19 7.74±2.15
Table 3 Variations of soil organic carbon (SOC) and carbon fractions in different reclamation years and soil depths
Source Controlled variable Sum of square df Mean square F value P value
CVL Reclamation year 76.03 4 19.01 79.73 <0.01
Soil depth 6.27 2 3.13 13.14 <0.01
Reclamation year×Soil depth 2.64 8 0.33 1.38 0.24
CL Reclamation year 9.57 4 2.39 21.07 <0.01
Soil depth 0.54 2 0.27 2.38 0.11
Reclamation year×Soil depth 2.66 8 0.33 2.93 0.02
CLL Reclamation year 1.44 4 0.36 8.50 <0.01
Soil depth 0.02 2 0.01 0.18 0.84
Reclamation year×Soil depth 0.31 8 0.04 0.93 0.51
CNL Reclamation year 41.56 4 10.39 47.35 <0.01
Soil depth 1.35 2 0.68 3.08 0.06
Reclamation year×Soil depth 3.18 8 0.40 1.81 0.12
SOC Reclamation year 370.84 4 92.71 118.04 <0.01
Soil depth 19.44 2 9.72 12.38 <0.01
Reclamation year×Soil depth 6.03 8 0.75 0.96 0.48
Table 4 Effects of reclamation year, soil depth, and their interaction on carbon fractions
Fig. 1 Relationships of soil organic carbon (SOC) with different carbon fractions. CVL, very liable carbon; CL, liable carbon; CLL, less liable carbon; CNL, non-liable carbon.
Fig. 2 Proportions of CVL, CL, CLL, and CNL in total SOC at the soil depth of 0-20 cm (a), 20-40 cm (b), and 40-60 cm (c). CK, original desert.
Fig. 3 Changes of stable carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) in different reclamation years and at different soil depths. Different lowercase letters represent the significant differences among the three soil depth in the same reclamation year (P<0.05), and different uppercase letters represent the significant difference among different reclamation years at the same soil depth (P<0.05). Bars mean standard errors.
Fig. 4 Changes of beta (β) value in different reclamation years. * denotes significant at P<0.05 level based on the Kruskal-Wallis (KW) test. The top, middle, and bottom lines of the box represent the upper quartile, median, and lower quartile, respectively; the black dot in the box represents the mean; and the top bar and bottom bar represent the maximum and minimum, respectively.
Fig. 5 Redundancy analysis (RDA) of SOC, carbon fractions, and δ13C with soil physicochemical properties. SWC, soil water content; BD, bulk density; TS, total salt; TN, total nitrogen; AP, available phosphorus; AK, available potassium.
Soil environmental factor Rank Proportion (%) F value P value
TN 1 26.1 4.6 0.016
pH 2 25.5 4.5 0.024
AP 3 24.3 4.2 0.020
AK 4 20.4 3.3 0.036
TS 5 12.1 1.8 0.162
SWC 6 6.4 0.9 0.432
BD 7 3.7 0.5 0.666
Table 5 Importance and significance level of soil environmental factors to SOC, carbon fractions, and δ13C
SOC 0.86 -0.51 -0.76 0.29 0.96 0.93 0.45
CVL 0.16 -0.19 -0.49 0.38 0.66** 0.63* 0.44
CL 0.37 -0.28 -0.72** 0.23 0.70** 0.66** 0.68**
CLL 0.11 0.00 -0.36 0.30 0.35 0.22 0.48
CNL 0.13 0.14 -0.51 0.35 0.44 0.45 0.31
δ13C 0.38 -0.29 -0.09 -0.47 0.09 0.25 0.12
Table 6 Correlation analysis of SOC, carbon fractions, and δ13C with soil physicochemical properties
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