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Earthworms facilitate carbon sequestration through unequal amplification of carbon stabilization compared with mineralization
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).
Published in Nature Communications
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.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH DIVISION