Soils

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Sumanta Bagchi (Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Advait Edgaonkar (Indian Institute of Forest Management)
Dr. Ankila J. Hiremath (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment)
Dr. Ashalata Devi (Tezpur University)
Dr. Bhupendra S. Adhikari (Wildlife Institute of India)
Dr. Deepak Barua (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research)
Dr. Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee (Azim Premji University)
Dr. Jayashree Ratnam (National Centre for Biological Sciences)
Dr. Md. Latif Khan (Harisingh Gour Central University)
Dr. Mahesh Sankaran (National Centre for Biological Sciences)
Dr. Pramod Jha (Indian Institute of Soil Science)
Dr. Sumit Dookia (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)
Dr. Sureshkumar Singh (North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology)
Dr. Rajkumar Yadav (Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation)
Dr. Raman Sukumar (Centre for Ecological Sciences)

Soils are fundamental to the functioning of all terrestrial ecosystems. Material and energy flow through ecosystems are broadly controlled by biological and geological properties of soil. Vegetation and soil carbon, and nutrient pools and fluxes in the permanent forest and grassland plots described above will be quantified to evaluate the biotic and environmental controls over energy and nutrient cycling in plots. In addition, all sites will be instrumented to quantify levels of N & P deposition, both wet and dry. This is critical both for quantifying levels of deposition at sites – data for which are scarce in the Indian subcontinent – as well for interpreting responses of vegetation in the long term. 

Soils are a major sink, as well as source, of greenhouse gas emissions. Most important gases are carbondioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Release and/or storage of carbon and/or nitrogen in these forms from soil represent broad biogeochemical patterns across global scales. Portable gas analyzers will be used to assess the rate of emissions of CO2, CH4, and N2O, from soil across habitats, covering wide ranges of environmental conditions (soil type, regional climate, land-use). This will be a crucial step towards assessment of the mutual feedback that operates between soils and ecosystem structure and functions.   

Soil moisture probes will be installed to characterize changes in soil water content over time. Following plot establishment and inventory, soil cores will be collected from within the plot for laboratory analysis of physical properties (e.g., soil texture) and chemical properties (carbon:nitrogen ratio).  

Plant carbon and nutrient pools will be estimated based on chemical analyses of plant tissue, and fluxes determined by combining these with plant production estimated using allometric equations from tree growth data. Soil carbon and nutrient pools will be quantified based on chemical analyses of soils. Soil carbon fluxes will be determined by quantifying soil respiration rates, while soil nutrient fluxes will be evaluated based on estimating monthly mineralization rates using open-top mineralization tubes.