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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (3): 375-387    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0056-4
Orginal Article     
Attribution of explanatory factors for change in soil organic carbon density in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China
Dongyan JIN1, J MURRAY Phil2, Xiaoping XIN1,*(), Yifei QIN1, Baorui CHEN1, Gele QING3, Zhao ZHANG1, Ruirui YAN1
1 Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
2 Department of Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems, Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2SB, UK
3 Department of Grassland Ecology and Animal Husbandry, Xilingol Vocational College, Xilinhot 026000, China
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The variation in soil organic carbon density (SOCD) has been widely documented at various spatial and temporal scales. However, an accurate method for examining the attribution of explanatory factors for change in SOCD is still lacking. This study aims to attribute and quantify the key climatic factors, anthropogenic activities, and soil properties associated with SOCD change in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China, by comparing data between the 1960s and the 2010s. In 2007 and 2011, we resampled 142 soil profiles which were originally sampled during 1963-1964 in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia. SOCD was determined in A horizon (eluvial horizon) of the soil. We selected the explanatory factors based on a random forest method, and explored the relationships between SOCD change and each of the explanatory factors using a linear mixed model. Our results indicated that the change in SOCD varied from the east to the west of Inner Mongolia, and SOCD was 18% lower in the 2010s than in the 1960s. The lower SOCD in the 2010s may primarily be attributed to the increasing in mean annual water surface evaporation, which explained approximately 10% and 50% of the total variation and explainable variation in the change in SOCD, respectively. The sand content of the soil is also a significant explanatory factor for the decrease in SOCD, which explained about 4% and 21% of the total variation and explainable variation in the change in SOCD, respectively. Furthermore, the collection of quantitative information on grazing frequency and duration may also help to improve our understanding of the anthropogenic factors that govern the change in SOCD.

Key wordssoil organic carbon      climate change      soil texture      mixed linear model      effect isolation      native grasslands     
Received: 10 July 2017      Published: 10 June 2018
Corresponding Authors: Xiaoping XIN     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Dongyan JIN, J MURRAY Phil, Xiaoping XIN, Yifei QIN, Baorui CHEN, Gele QING, Zhao ZHANG, Ruirui YAN. Attribution of explanatory factors for change in soil organic carbon density in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(3): 375-387.

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