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Tradeoff between the Conservation of Soil C Stocks and Vegetation Productivity in Temperate Grasslands

Abstract : Grassland management affects ecosystem services such as the conservation of C stocks. The aim of this study was to analyze the relation between vegetation production and soil C stocks for a set of seven temperate grasslands of various productivity levels. We estimated vegetation production directly through measurements of aboveground biomass (>5 cm), stubble and root biomass, and indirectly via plant community functioning. Soil C stocks were measured for bulk soil (organic C, SOC) and hot-water-extractable C (HWC) of topsoil. Plant community functioning was characterized by community-weighted mean (CWM) traits and functional diversity index. Results show a negative relation between biomass production and SOC stock. The tradeoff between productivity and SOC stock could be linked to plant community functioning and particularly Leaf Dry Matter content (LDMC CWM) which appeared to be the most relevant descriptor of plant community functioning. High SOC stock could be associated to low productivity, conservative strategy (high LDMC CWM), low soil labile C content and grassland age. Our results show a strong direct effect of management and grassland age on plant community, which in turn affects plant tissue quality and subsequent organic matter mineralization. Old permanent grasslands appeared less productive but represent an occasion for C storage and thus global change mitigation.
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Caroline Kohler, Annette Morvan-Bertrand, Jean-Bernard Cliquet, Katja Klumpp, Servane Lemauviel-Lavenant. Tradeoff between the Conservation of Soil C Stocks and Vegetation Productivity in Temperate Grasslands. Agronomy, MDPI, 2020, 10 (7), pp.1024. ⟨10.3390/agronomy10071024⟩. ⟨hal-02935903⟩

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