Soil organic carbon contents and stocks in coastal salt marshes with Spartina alterniflora following an invasion chronosequence in the Yellow River Delta, China.
Plant invasion alters the fundamental structure and function of native ecosystems by affecting the biogeochemical pools and fluxes of materials and energy. Native (Suaeda salsa) and invasive (Spartina alterniflora) salt marshes were selected to study the effects of Spartina alterniflora invasion on soil organic carbon (SOC) contents and stocks in the Yellow River Delta. Results showed that the SOC contents (g/kg) and stocks (kg/m2) were significantly increased (P<0.05) after Spartina alterniflora invasion of seven years, especially for the surface soil layer (0-20 cm). The SOC contents exhibited an even distribution along the soil profiles in native salt marshes, while the SOC contents were gradually decreased with depth after Spartina alterniflora invasion of seven years. The natural ln response ratios (LnRR) were applied to identify the effects of short-term Spartina alterniflora invasion on the SOC stocks. We also found that Spartina alterniflora invasion might cause soil organic carbon losses in a short-term phase (2-4 years in this study) due to the negative LnRR values, especially for 20-60 cm depth. And the SOCD in surface layer (0-20 cm) do not increase linearly with the invasive age. Spearman correlation analysis revealed that silt + clay content was exponentially related with SOC in surface layer (Adjusted R2=0.43, P<0.001), suggesting that soil texture could play a key role in SOC sequestration of coastal salt marshes.