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Journal of Arid Land  2015, Vol. 7 Issue (3): 328-340    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0045-1
Research Articles     
Accumulation of soil organic carbon during natural restoration of desertified grassland in China's Horqin Sandy Land
YuQiang LI1, XueYong ZHAO1, FengXia ZHANG2, Tala AWADA3, ShaoKun WANG1, HaLin ZHAO1, TongHui ZHANG1, YuLin LI1
1 Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 School of Environmental and Municipal Engineering, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou 730070, China;
3 School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln NE 68583, USA
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Abstract  China's Horqin Sandy Land, a formerly lush grassland, has experienced extensive desertification that caused considerable carbon (C) losses from the plant-soil system. Natural restoration through grazing exclusion is a widely suggested option to sequester C and to restore degraded land. In a desertified grassland, we investigated the C accumulation in the total and light fractions of the soil organic matter from 2005 to 2013 during natural restoration. To a depth of 20 cm, the light fraction organic carbon (LFOC) storage increased by 221 g C/m2 (84%) and the total soil organic carbon (SOC) storage increased by 435 g C/m2 (55%). The light fraction dry matter content represented a small proportion of the total soil mass (ranging from 0.74% in 2005 to 1.39% in 2013), but the proportion of total SOC storage accounted for by LFOC was remarkable (ranging from 33% to 40%). The C sequestration averaged 28 g C/(m2•a) for LFOC and 54 g C/(m2•a) for total SOC. The total SOC was strongly and significantly positively linearly related to the light fraction dry matter content and the proportions of fine sand and silt+clay. The light fraction organic matter played a major role in total SOC sequestration. Our results suggest that grazing exclusion can restore desertified grassland and has a high potential for sequestering SOC in the semiarid Horqin Sandy Land.

Key wordslicorice      arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi      phosphorus      medical compounds     
Received: 23 July 2014      Published: 05 February 2015

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41271007, 31170413) and the National Science and Technology Support Program of China (2011BAC07B02).

Corresponding Authors: Yuqiang LI     E-mail:;
Cite this article:

YuQiang LI, XueYong ZHAO, FengXia ZHANG, Tala AWADA3, ShaoKun WANG, HaLin ZHAO, TongHui ZHANG, YuLin LI. Accumulation of soil organic carbon during natural restoration of desertified grassland in China's Horqin Sandy Land. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(3): 328-340.

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