Conversion of grassy cerrado into riparian forest and its impacts on soil organic matter dynamics in an Oxisol from southeast Brazil

F.A. de Alcantara, P. Buurman, A.E. Furtini Neto, N. Curi, R. Roscoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to evaluate possible changes in soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics after establishing riparian forests on soils previously under Brazilian savannah ("cerrado"). We selected a site with a homogeneous Typic Aerie Red-Yellow Latosol (Anionic Acrustox). Part of this site was maintained under native vegetation (grassy cerrado C-4-dominated), and part was planted with riparian species (C-3) in 1992. Litter and soil samples were collected and analysed (total organic carbon, total nitrogen, delta(13)C isotopic analysis, and SOM density fractionation). Due to the predominance of grasses, carbon input was mainly below ground in cerrado. In such a soil, the decomposition process was more efficient, and much C and N were transferred to the heavy fraction. When forest was planted, there was a change from belowground to aboveground litter input (largely superficial), leading to higher C and N stocks in the light and lower stocks in the heavy fraction (resulting in lower stocks for bulk soil). The introduction of the C-3 vegetation decreased the soil delta(13)C signature. It has occurred particularly in the topsoil (0 - 5 cm) due to the deposition of C-3 litter on the soil surface. At the same time, the presence of cerrado-remaining C below 5 cm maintained higher delta(13)C values in this layer. During the 8 years after forest plantation, the input mode influenced both the delta(13)C distribution with depth, and the C replacement: between 0 and 2.5 cm, nearly 50% of cerrado-derived C was replaced by forest-derived C, while below 5 cm, replacement was around 20%. The relatively rapid C dynamics in this Oxisol (27% replacement in the top 20 cm after 8 years of forest plantation) shows that, under tropical conditions, significant changes may occur in a short period of time. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-317
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • particle-size fractions
  • c-13 natural-abundance
  • stable carbon isotope
  • vegetation changes
  • density fractions
  • delta-c-13
  • ratios
  • decomposition
  • turnover
  • nitrogen

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