Changes of carbon-isotope ratios in soil organic matter relative to parent vegetation and site specificity
Keywords:C:N ratio; 13C; heavy metals; microbial products; isotope fractionation; soil organic matter
Investigating the correlation between biodiversity and ecosystem function in natural environments using carbon-isotope composition (δ13C) allows distinguishing the nutrient cycling pattern and anthropogenic effects incorporation in plants and soil processes. The mechanisms behind the isotopic composition of soil organic matter (SOM) and parent vegetation in relation to the context of site-specificity was approached in this work. Formation of SOM can be affected by the presence of a high concentration of heavy metals in soils. Still, no systematic studies were performed in most of the industrial sites to support this hypothesis. In order to explore this incomplete understood influence, investigation of carbon isotope signatures (d13C) variations in soil organic matter were performed in two industrial areas from Romania (Copșa Mică industrial platform and Baia Sprie mining zone). The current study, also, investigated the C:N ratio variation, as well as the influence of N speciation regarding d13C values of SOM. The decrease in C:N ratio indicated an increasing effect of the microbial products on SOM matter at increasing depth, for both regions, while an increase of the denitrification processes with depth was found for both areas. For the most appropriate depth (20-40 cm), the soil from Baia Sprie region was more enriched in 13C comparing with the soil from Copsa Mica region, and this higher isotope fractionation of SOM might be due to a higher carbon content, respectively a higher nitrogen content of Baia Sprie soil. It was concluded that the SOM of the surface soil in the two investigated regions has an 13C isotopic composition similar to the plant remains from which it was formed, offering an integrated value of plant material, time and the local origin and providing useful markers of tree isotopic composition.
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