SOIL PROCESSES AND ECOLOGICAL SERVICES IN THE KARST CRITICAL ZONE OF SW CHINA
The CZO was established in June 2016. We investigate the integrated geophysical-geochemical-ecological and social responses of the CZO to past perturbations, along a gradient from undisturbed natural vegetation through human perturbed landscapes at 3 levels of use – sloping farmland, recovery phase 1 (recently abandoned, within 5 years) and recovery phase 2 (secondary forest, abandoned > 5 years). We integrate measurements of: (1) plant, soil, mycorrhizal fungi and free-living soil microbes; (2) rates of rock weathering, elemental release and soil formation processes; (3) rates of erosion and soil redistribution; and, (4) pools and fluxes of soil organic C (SOC), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) within the karst ecosystem. Through explicit consideration of plant-microbe-soil and plant-microbe-rock interactions, we will identify the biological controls on nutrient availability, soil formation and loss in the CZO. This talk encompasses the early stages of the project and presents some preliminary results.