Changes in soil carbon sequestration in Pinus massoniana forests along an urban-to-rural gradient of southern China
Urbanization is accelerating globally, causing a variety of environmental changes such as increases in air temperature, precipitation, atmospheric CO 2, and nitrogen (N) deposition. However, the effects of these changes on forest soil carbon (C) sequestration remain largely unclear. Here, we used urban-to-rural environmental gradients in Guangdong Province, southern China, to address the potential effects of these environmental changes on soil C sequestration in Pinus massoniana forests. In contrast to our expectations and earlier observations, soil C content in urban sites was significantly lower than that in suburban and rural sites. Lower soil C pools in urban sites were correlated with a significant decrease in fine root biomass and a potential increase in soil organic C decomposition. Variation of soil C pools was also a function of change in soil C fractions. Heavy fraction C content in urban sites was significantly lower than that in suburban and rural sites. By contrast, light fraction C content did not vary significantly along the urban-to-rural gradient. Our results suggest that urbanization-induced environmental changes may have a negative effect on forest soil C in the studied region.