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Applied and Environmental Soil Science
Volume 2015, Article ID 205846, 10 pages
Research Article

Soil Carbon Accumulation and CO2 Flux in Experimental Restoration Plots, Southern Iceland: Comparing Soil Treatment Strategies

1Department of Biological Sciences, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY 13214, USA
2Agricultural University of Iceland, Hvanneyri, 311 Borgarnes, Iceland
3Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, 112 Reykjavik, Iceland

Received 15 June 2015; Accepted 2 August 2015

Academic Editor: Rafael Clemente

Copyright © 2015 Lawrence H. Tanner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Experimental plots were established on severely eroded land surfaces in Iceland in 1999 to study the rates and limits of soil carbon sequestration during restoration and succession. The carbon content in the upper 10 cm of soils increased substantially during the initial eight years in all plots for which the treatments included both fertilizer and seeding with grasses, concomitant with the increase in vegetative cover. In the following five years, however, the soil carbon accumulation rates declined to negligible for most treatments and the carbon content in soils mainly remained relatively constant. We suggest that burial of vegetated surfaces by aeolian drift and nutrient limitation inhibited productivity and carbon sequestration in most plots. Only plots seeded with lupine demonstrated continued long-term soil carbon accumulation and soil CO2 flux rates significantly higher than background levels. This demonstrates that lupine was the sole treatment that resulted in vegetation capable of sustained growth independent of nutrient availability and resistant to disruption by aeolian processes.