CAPAS (2010-2013): Carbon and nitrogen dynamics across spatial scales in pastures of the Iberian Peninsula / Dinámica del carbono y el nitrógeno a lo largo de escalas espaciales en pastos de la Península Ibérica

CAPAS (MICINN Project): Carbon and nitrogen dynamics across spatial scales in pastures of the  Iberian Peninsula (Conceeded in June 2010) / Dinámica del carbono y el nitrógeno a lo largo de escalas espaciales en pastos de la Península Ibérica

Principal investigator at CTFC: Maria-Teresa SEBASTIÀ (Laboratory ECOFUN).

Abstract:

The project addresses mechanisms that contribute to soil carbon storage in pastoral ecosystems at various spatial scales, assessing processes and links of the carbon and nitrogen cycles, and focussing on relevant associated organisms, including microorganisms, invertebrates, plants and livestock. We will compare patterns and processes on pastures from three regions of the Iberian Peninsula: North-Eastern, Western, and Southern Spain; and several management and bioclimatic systems, from boreo-alpine high altitude grasslands to Mediterranean dehesas. At the regional scale, CAPAS will contribute to the PASTUS database, compiled by the partner from CTFC, increasing the number of samples from typical Mediterranean pastures. The role of climate and bedrock will be particularly addressed, and climatic models on soil carbon stocks previously developed by the group will be contrasted under a wider range of environmental conditions. At the landscape scale, methods for spatialization of carbon stocks will be explored. At the ecosystem level, a combination of classical and cutting-edge techniques will be used to evaluate the following patterns and processes: litter decomposition; nitrogen mineralization and nitrification; denitrification; CO2 and NOx emission; plant diversity distribution; nematode faunal composition; soil biostructure formation; isotopic signal transmission across trophic levels; microbial diversity. The group will explore the relevance of intra-ecosystem scales by comparing processes at patch level within the pasture, considering 3 to 4 patch types: grass-dominated, legume-dominated, forb-dominated, highly diverse. Central to the project will be the relationship between ecosystem processes, and species and functional diversity. The outcomes of the project will be: an assessment of the capacity of Iberian pastures to accumulate soil carbon; an example of soil carbon stocks mapping through models including management factors; a better understanding of the links between the carbon and nitrogen cycles; a better understanding of the role of the flora and fauna in the carbon and nitrogen cycles, including microorganisms; a test about the limits and constrains of the relationship between organismic and functional diversity, and ecosystem functioning.

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