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Title: Woody overstorey effects on soil carbon and nitrogen pools in South African savanna

Author: Hudak, A. T.; Wessman, C. A.; Seastedt, T. R.;

Date: 2003

Source: Austral Ecology 28(2): 173-­181.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Woody plant encroachment in savannas may alter carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools over the longterm, which could have regional or global biogeochemical implications given the widespread encroachment observed in the vast savanna biome. Soil and litter %C and %N were surveyed across four soil types in two encroached, semiarid savanna landscapes in northern South Africa. Litter at sampling points with a woody component had a higher %N and lower C : N ratio than litter at solely herbaceous points. Severely encroached areas had lower C : N ratios throughout the soil profile than less encroached areas. Soil %C and %N were highly influenced by soil texture but were also influenced by the presence of a woody overstorey, which increased surface soil %C on three soil types but decreased it on the most heavily encroached soil type. Soil C sequestration may initially increase with bush encroachment but then decline if bush densities become so high as to inhibit understorey grass growth.

Keywords: bush encroachment, carbon sequestration, fire suppression, Ganyesa, grazing, litter inputs, Madikwe, overgrazing, semi-arid savanna, soil texture

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Hudak, A. T.; Wessman, C. A.; Seastedt, T. R. 2003. Woody overstorey effects on soil carbon and nitrogen pools in South African savanna. Austral Ecology 28(2): 173-­181.


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