Comparison of Botanical Composition, Soil Carbon Content, and Root Distribution of Subirrigated Meadows in The Nebraska Sandhills
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Characterizing vegetation composition, carbon/nitrogen (C/N) content of soils, and root-mass distribution is critical to understanding carbon sequestration potential of subirrigated meadows in the Nebraska Sandhills. Five subirrigated meadows dominated by cool-season (C3) graminoids and five meadows dominated by warm-season (C4) grasses were selected throughout the Nebraska Sandhills. Vegetation, soil carbon and nitrogen, and root-mass density distribution were sampled in each meadow. Meadows dominated by C3 vegetation had 12% greater (P < 0.1) yields than meadows dominated by C4 vegetation. Total root-mass density was 30% greater (P < 0.1) in C4-dominated meadows than C3-dominated meadows. Total carbon and nitrogen content was 65% and 53% greater (P < 0.1), respectively, in the A horizon of C3-dominated meadows, but was 43% and 52% greater (P < 0.1), respectively, in the C horizon of C4-dominated meadows. Although meadows dominated by C3 vegetation had more carbon in the soil profile, much of the carbon in C3-dominated meadows appeared to be recalcitrant C4 carbon from historic vegetation.