Scale-dependent relationships between soil organic carbon and urease activity

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Corstanje, R., Schulin, R. and Lark, R. M. 2007. Scale-dependent relationships between soil organic carbon and urease activity. European Journal of Soil Science. 58 (5), pp. 1087-1095.

AuthorsCorstanje, R., Schulin, R. and Lark, R. M.

Many soil properties and processes vary at different spatial scales. As a result, relationships between soil properties often depend on scale. In this paper we show this for two soil properties of biological importance, by means of a nested analysis of covariance. The variables were urease activity (UA) and soil organic carbon (SOC), sampled on an unbalanced nested design at three sites with different land uses (arable, forest and pasture). The objective of this study was to investigate the scale-dependent relationships of UA and SOC at these three sites to exemplify the phenomenon of scale-dependency in the covariation of biogeochemical variables. At each site the variables showed different scale dependencies, expressed in their correlations at different scales. At the pasture site, UA and SOC were uncorrelated at all scales in the sampling design (0.2 m, 1 m, 6 m and >= 15 m), and the overall product moment correlation was 0.10. A significant positive scale dependent correlation (0.65) was found at the 1-m scale for the forested site. The soil properties were not spatially correlated at any of the other scales and the associated product moment correlation for this site was 0.14. Urease activity and soil organic C were found not to be correlated at the shorter scales in the arable site. However, significant positive correlation coefficients of 0.89 and 0.82 were obtained at the longer scales of 6 and >= 15-m respectively for the arable site. The product moment correlation at this site was 0.65. At both the arable and forest site, we found that correlations at particular scales were stronger than the overall product moment correlation. This approach allowed us to identify significant relationships between urease activity and soil organic carbon and the scales at which these relationships occur and to draw conclusions about the spatial scales, which must be resolved in further studies of these variables in these contrasting environments. This study highlights the pervasive effect of scale in soil biogeochemistry and shows that scale-dependence must not be disregarded by soil scientists in their investigations of biogeochemical processes.

KeywordsSoil Science
Year of Publication2007
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Journal citation58 (5), pp. 1087-1095
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or codeCentre for Mathematical and Computational Biology (MCB)
Project: 4868

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