To quantify the consequences of erosion and vegetation restoration on ecosystem C dynamics (a key element in understanding the terrestrial C cycle), field measurements were collected since 1959 at two experimental sites set up on highly disturbed barren land in South China. One site had received vegetation restoration (the restored site) while the other received no planting and remained barren (the barren site). The Erosion-Deposition Carbon Model (EDCM) was used to simulate the ecosystem C dynamics at both sites. The on-site observations in 2007 showed that soil organic C (SOC) storage in the top 80-cm soil layer at the barren site was 50.3 ?? 3.5 Mg C ha-1, half that of the restored site. The SOC and surface soil loss by erosion at the restored site from 1959 to 2007 was 3.7 MgC ha-1 and 2.2 cm, respectively-one-third and one-eighth that of the barren site. The on-site C sequestration in SOC and vegetation at the restored site was 0.67 and 2.5 Mg C ha-1 yr-1, respectively, from 1959 to 2007, driven largely by tree growth and high atmospheric N deposition in the study area. Simulated findings suggested that higher N deposition resulted in higher on-site SOC storage in the soil profile (with SOC in the top 20-cm layer increasing more significantly), and higher on-site ecosystem C sequestration as long as N saturation was not reached. Lacking human-induced vegetation recovery, the barren site remained as barren land from 1959 to 2007 and the on-site C decrease was 0.28 Mg C ha-1 yr-1. Our study clearly indicated that vegetation restoration and burial by soil erosion provide a large potential C sink in terrestrial ecosystems. ?? Soil Science Society of America.
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Erosion and vegetation restoration impacts on ecosystem carbon dynamics in South China