Background: Soil organic carbon (SOC) is important for soil quality and fertility in forest ecosystems. Labile SOC fractions are sensitive to environmental changes, which reflect the impact of short-term internal and external management measures on the soil carbon pool. Organic mulching (OM) alters the soil environment and promotes plant growth. However, little is known about the responses of SOC fractions in rhizosphere or bulk soil to OM in urban forests and its correlation with carbon composition in plants. Methods: A one-year field experiment with four treatments (OM at 0, 5, 10, and 20 cm thicknesses) was conducted in a 15-year-old Ligustrum lucidum plantation. Changes in the SOC fractions in the rhizosphere and bulk soil; the carbon content in the plant fine roots, leaves, and organic mulch; and several soil physicochemical properties were measured. The relationships between SOC fractions and the measured variables were analysed. Results: The OM treatments had no significant effect on the SOC fractions, except for the dissolved organic carbon (DOC). OM promoted the movement of SOC to deeper soil because of the increased carbon content in fine roots of subsoil. There were significant correlations between DOC and microbial biomass carbon and SOC and easily oxidised organic carbon. The OM had a greater effect on organic carbon fractions in the bulk soil than in the rhizosphere. The thinnest (5 cm) mulching layers showed the most rapid carbon decomposition over time. The time after OM had the greatest effect on the SOC fractions, followed by soil layer. Conclusions: The frequent addition of small amounts of organic mulch increased SOC accumulation in the present study. OM is a potential management model to enhance soil organic matter storage for maintaining urban forest productivity.
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2021|