Science Inventory

Earthworms facilitate carbon sequestration through unequal amplification of carbon stabilization compared with mineralization

Citation:

Zhang, W., P. Hendrix, L. Dame, R. Burke, J. Wu, D. Neher, J. Li, Y. Shao, AND S. Fu. Earthworms facilitate carbon sequestration through unequal amplification of carbon stabilization compared with mineralization. Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group, London, Uk, 4(2576):1-9, (2013).

Impact/Purpose:

Published in Nature Communications

Description:

A recent review concluded that earthworm presence increases CO2 emissions by 33% but does not affect soil organic carbon stocks. However, the findings are controversial and raise new questions. Here we hypothesize that neither an increase in CO2 emission nor in stabilized carbon would entirely reflect the earthworms’ contribution to net carbon sequestration. We show how two widespread earthworm invaders affect net carbon sequestration through impacts on the balance of carbon mineralization and carbon stabilization. Earthworms accelerate carbon activation and induce unequal amplification of carbon stabilization compared with carbon mineralization, which generates an earthworm-mediated ‘carbon trap’. We introduce the new concept of sequestration quotient to quantify the unequal processes. The patterns of CO2 emission and net carbon sequestration are predictable by comparing sequestration quotient values between treatments with and without earthworms. This study clarifies an ecological mechanism by which earthworms may regulate the terrestrial carbon sink.

URLs/Downloads:

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 10/15/2013
Record Last Revised: 12/11/2013
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 261693

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH DIVISION