Determinants of soil organic carbon sequestration and its contribution to ecosystem carbon sinks of planted forests
Wang SQ, Huang Y*
Global Change Biology
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The area of forest established through afforestation/reforestation has been increasing on a global scale, which is particularly important as these planted forests attenuate climate change by sequestering carbon. However, the determinants of soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration and their contribution to the ecosystem carbon sink of planted forests remain uncertain. By using globally distributed data extracted from 154 peer‐reviewed publications and a total of 355 sampling points, we investigated above‐ground biomass carbon (ABC) sequestration and SOC sequestration across three different climatic zones (tropical, warm temperate, and cold temperate) through correlation analysis, regression models, and structural equation modeling (SEM). We found that the proportion of SOC sequestration in the ecosystem C sequestration averaged 14.1% globally, being the highest (27.0%) in the warm temperate and the lowest (10.7%) in the tropical climatic zones. The proportion was mainly affected by latitude. The sink rate of ABC (R ABC) in tropical climates (2.48 Mg C ha-1 year-1) and the sink rate of SOC (R SOC) in warm temperate climates (0.96 Mg C ha-1 year-1) were higher than other climatic zones. The main determinants of R SOC were the number of frost‐free days, latitude, mean annual precipitation (MAP), and SOC density (SOCD) at the initial observation; however, these variables depended on the climatic zone. According to the SEM, frost‐free period, mean annual temperature (MAT) and MAP are the dominant driving factors affecting R SOC in Chinese plantations. MAT has a positive effect on R SOC, and global warming may increase R SOC of temperate plantations in China. Our findings highlight the determinants of SOC sequestration and quantitatively reveal the substantial global contribution of SOC sequestration to ecosystem carbon sink provided by planted forests. Our results help managers identify and control key factors to increase carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems.