Pattern and variation of C:N:P ratios in China’s soils : a synthesis of observational data
Melillo, Jerry M.
Hall, Charles A. S.
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Inspired by previous studies that have indicated consistent or even well-constrained relationships among carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in soils, we have endeavored to explore general soil C:N:P ratios in China on a national scale, as well as the changing patterns of these ratios with soil depth, developmental stages and climate; we also attempted to determine if well-constrained C:N:P stoichiometrical ratios exist in China’s soil. Based on an inventory data set of 2,384 soil profiles, our analysis indicated that the mean C:N, C:P and N:P ratios for the entire soil depth (as deep as 250 cm for some soil profiles) in China were 11.9, 61 and 5.2, respectively, showing a C:N:P ratio of ~60:5:1. C:N ratios showed relatively small variation among different climatic zones, soil orders, soil depth and weathering stages, while C:P and N:P ratios showed a high spatial heterogeneity and large variations in different climatic zones, soil orders, soil depth and weathering stages. No well-constrained C:N:P ratios were found for the entire soil depth in China. However, for the 0-10 cm organic-rich soil, where has the most active organism-environment interaction, we found a well-constrained C:N ratio (14.4, molar ratio) and relatively consistent C:P (136) and N:P (9.3) ratios, with a general C:N:P ratio of 134:9:1. Finally, we suggested that soil C:N, C:P and N:P ratios in organic-rich topsoil could be a good indicator of soil nutrient status during soil development.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2009. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biogeochemistry 98 (2010): 139-151, doi:10.1007/s10533-009-9382-0.
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