Data_Sheet_1_Shelterbelt Poplar Forests Induced Soil Changes in Deep Soil Profiles and Climates Contributed Their Inter-site Variations in Dryland Regions, Northeastern China.pdf

The influence of shelterbelt afforestation on soils in different-depth profiles and possible interaction with climatic conditions is important for evaluating ecological effects of large-scale afforestation programs. In the Songnen Plain, northeastern China, 720 soil samples were collected from five different soil layers (0–20, 20–40, 40–60, 60–80, and 80–100 cm) in shelterbelt poplar forests and neighboring farmlands. Soil physiochemical properties [pH, electrical conductivity (EC), soil porosity, soil moisture and bulk density], soil carbon and nutrients [soil organic carbon (SOC), N, alkaline-hydrolyzed N, P, available P, K and available K], forest characteristics [tree height, diameter at breast height (DBH), and density], climatic conditions [mean annual temperature (MAT), mean annual precipitation (MAP), and aridity index (ARID)], and soil texture (percentage of silt, clay, and sand) were measured. We found that the effects of shelterbelt afforestation on bulk density, porosity, available K, and total P were observed up to 100 cm deep; while the changes in available K and P were several-fold higher in the 0–20 cm soil layer than that in deeper layers (p < 0.05). For other parameters (soil pH and EC), shelterbelt-influences were mainly observed in surface soils, e.g., EC was 14.7% lower in shelterbelt plantations than that in farmlands in the 0–20 cm layer, about 2.5–3.5-fold higher than 60–100 cm soil inclusion. For soil moisture, shelterbelt afforestation decreased soil water by 7.3–8.7% in deep soils (p < 0.05), while no significant change was in 0–20 cm soil. For SOC and N, no significant differences between shelterbelt and farmlands were found in all five-depth soil profiles. Large inter-site variations were found for all shelterbelt-induced soil changes (p < 0.05) except for total K in the 0–20 cm layer. MAT and silt content provided the greatest explanation powers for inter-site variations in shelterbelt-induced soil properties changes. However, in deeper soils, water (ARID and MAP) explained more of the variation than that in surface soils. Therefore, shelterbelt afforestation in northeastern China could affect aspects of soil properties down to 100 cm deep, with inter-site variations mainly controlled by climate and soil texture, and greater contribution from water characteristics in deeper soils.