Distribution and stability of soil carbon in spekboom thicket, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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dc.contributor.advisor Hardie, A. G. en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor Mills, A. J. en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Mchunu, Sinethemba Euginia en_ZA
dc.contributor.other Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Soil Science. en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2012-02-14T10:54:16Z en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2012-03-30T10:35:30Z
dc.date.available 2012-02-14T10:54:16Z en_ZA
dc.date.available 2012-03-30T10:35:30Z
dc.date.issued 2012-03 en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20031
dc.description Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2012. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Soils of semi-arid regions generally have low organic matter contents, primarily attributed to prevailing climatic conditions. Yet, the spekboom thicket, located in the semi-arid region of the Eastern Cape (South Africa) has been distinguished to accumulate large amounts of soil carbon. To further understand this remarkable accumulation, a detailed investigation was carried out to evaluate the distribution, speciation and stability of the soil carbon from directly beneath spekboom (Portulacaria afra) and other “nonspekboom” vegetation within the intact thicket, and from adjacent, degraded (overgrazed), open thicket sites. In the first experimental chapter, the distribution of organic and inorganic C, as well as general soil properties (pH, EC, exchangeable and water soluble cations, hydrophobicity, water stable aggregates) were investigated in the intact (spekboom and nonspekboom) and degraded (open) thicket soils. There were no significant differences in the C content (organic or inorganic) between the spekboom and nonspekboom sites in the intact thicket. Soil organic carbon (SOC) content however was greatly influenced by thicket degradation, whereas, inorganic C remained unaffected. Mean organic C (0-50 cm) ranged from 19-34, 22-62, and 19-58 g C kg-1 for open, spekboom, and nonspekboom sites, respectively. Whereas, mean inorganic C ranged from 2-9 g C kg-1 irrespective of sites, representing 4-22 % of total soil C. However, no significant differences were detected between degraded and intact sites for all (total, organic and inorganic) C stocks, attributed to variation in bulk density. Spekboom soils contained significantly higher concentrations of exchangeable and water soluble Mg, Na, and K, and consequently had higher pH and EC compared to the other sites. Soils tended to be hydrophobic especially at shallower depths in the intact thicket irrespective of vegetation type, whereas soils from the adjacent open sites were not significantly hydrophobic. Macro-aggregates were considerably more stable under intact sites compared to open sites. The second experimental chapter investigated the effects of degradation and vegetation type on the stability and structural chemistry of SOC. This involved partitioning the soil organic matter into particulate and mineral-bound (stable) fractions, and then examining the relationships between the stable organic C fraction and various soil properties as an attempt to elucidate the stabilization mechanism(s). Particulate organic C ranged from 7.0, 9.3, and 14.4 g C kg-1 for open, spekboom, and nonspekboom respectively; representing 22-34 % of total SOC. Stable (mineral-bound) organic C accounted for the largest fraction ca. 60-66 % of total SOC; 28.0 and 26.2 g C kg-1 for spekboom and non-spekboom respectively, versus 17.2 g C kg-1 for open sites. It was concluded that SOC stability was influenced by the inherent residue quality (recalcitrance) rather than soil properties, attributed to the aliphatic (lipids and waxes) and highly aromatic nature of the spekboom litter substrate and particulate OM. These research findings are of fundamental significance in understanding soil organic matter stabilization in semi-arid environments. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gronde van semi–ariede streke het oor die algemeen 'n lae organiese materiaalinhoud, wat hoofsaaklik aan die heersende klimaatstoestande toegeskryf kan word. Tog, het die spekboomruigtes, geleë in die semi-ariede streek van die Oos-Kaap (Suid Afrika), onderskeidelik groot hoeveelhede grondkoolstof geakkumuleer. Om hierdie merkwaardige akkumulasie verder te verstaan, was 'n gedetailleerde ondersoek uitgevoer om die verspreiding, spesiasie en stabiliteit van die grondkoolstof direk onder spekboom (Portulacaria afra) en ander “nie-spekboom” plantegroei binne die intakte ruigte en van die aangrensende gedegradeer (oorbeweide), oop gras areas te evalueer. In die eerste eksperimentele hoofstuk, is die verspreiding van organiese en anorganiese C, sowel as algemene grondeienskappe (pH, uitruilbare en wateroplosbare katione, hidrofobisiteit, water-stabiele aggregate) was in die intakte (spekboom en nie-spekboom) en degradeerde (oop) ruigtes ondersoek. Daar was geen betekenisvolle verskille in die C-inhoud (organies of anorganies) tussen die spekboom en nie-spekboom gronde in die intakte ruigtes gevind nie. Grond organiese koolstof (GOK) inhoud is grootliks deur die ruigte se agteruitgang beïnvloed, maar anorganiese C-voorrade was egter nie beïnvloed nie. Die gemiddelde organiese C-inhoud (0-50 cm) het van 19-34, 22-62 en 19-58 g C kg-1 onderskeidelik vir 'n oop, spekboom, en nie-spekboom areas gewissel. Die anorganiese C-inhoude het vanaf 2-9 g C kg-1 gewissel, ongeag van ligging, wat 4-22 % van die totale grond C uit maak. Daar is egter geen beduidende verskille tussen vervalle en heel terreine vir almal (totaal, organiese en anorganiese) C aandele opgespoor, toegeskryf word aan die variasie in die massadigtheid. Spekboom gronde het beduidende hoër konsentrasies van uitruilbare en wateroplosbare Mg, Na, en K waardes bevat. Dit het ook hoër pH en EC, in vergelyking met die ander areas gehad. Gronde was geneig om hidrofobies te wees, veral op vlakker dieptes in die intakte ruigte, ongeag van die plantegroei, terwyl die gronde van die aangrensende oop areas nie beduidend hidrofobies was nie. Makro grond aggregate was aansienlik meer stabiel onder intakte ruigtes as in die oop areas. Die tweede eksperimentele hoofstuk het die gevolge van die weiding-geïnduseerde degradasie en tipe plantegroei op die stabiliteit en strukturele chemie van GOK ondersoek. Dit het die skeiding van die grond organiese materiaal in die vrye en mineraalgebonde (stabiele) fraksies behels. Daarna is die verhoudings tussen die stabiele organiese C fraksie en verskeie grondeienskappe ondersoek om die stabiliseringmeganisme(s) uit te lig. Die chemiese aard van die blare, plante oorblyfsels, fyn en minerale gebinde organiese C is met behulp van spektroskopie ondersoek. Vrye organiese C voorraad het van 7.0, 9.3, en 14.4 g C kg-1 vir oop, spekboom, en nie-spekboom onderskeidelik gewissel, wat ongeveer 23-34% van die totale GOK verteenwoordig. Stabiele (minerale gebind) organiese C-voorrade is vir die grootste fraksie ca. 60-66% van die totale GOK verantwoordelik. Dit was 28.0 en 26.2 g C kg-1 onderskeidelik vir spekboom en nie-spekboom, teenoor 17.2 g C kg-1 vir 'n oop area. Die mineraalgebonde GOK het geen noemenswaardige korrelasies met die ondersoekte grondeienskappe getoon nie. Dus is tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat GOK stabilisering eerder deur die plante oorblyfsel se chemiese kwaliteit beïnvloed word. Strukturele chemiese karakterisering (13C CP-MAS KMR) van die spekboom afval en vrye C fraksie het gewys dat weerspannigheid die mees prominente meganisme van koolstof stabilisering van organiese koolstof in die gronde is. Dit word aan die alifatiese (lipiede en wasse) en sterk aromatiese aard van die spekboom substrate toegeskryf. Hierdie ondersoek het tot die fundamentele kennis van grond organiese materiaalstabilisering in 'n semi-ariede omgewings bygedra. af_ZA
dc.format.extent 94 p. : ill.
dc.language.iso en_ZA en_ZA
dc.publisher Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University en_ZA
dc.subject Soil carbon en_ZA
dc.subject Stabilization mechanisms en_ZA
dc.subject Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) thicket en_ZA
dc.subject Semi-arid climate en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Soil science en_ZA
dc.subject Theses -- Soil science en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Agriculture en_ZA
dc.subject Theses -- Agriculture en_ZA
dc.subject Soils -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape en_ZA
dc.title Distribution and stability of soil carbon in spekboom thicket, Eastern Cape, South Africa en_ZA
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.holder Stellenbosch University


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