Black carbon in a temperate mixed-grass savanna Academic Article uri icon


  • Black carbon (BC) or charcoal is thought to represent an important component of the carbon cycle, but has seldom been quantified in soils. We quantified soil BC in a temperate mixed-grass savanna in the southern Great Plains using benzenecarboxylic acids as molecular markers for BC. Soils were collected from four fire treatments (repeated summer fires in 1992 and 1994; repeated winter fires in 1991, 1993 and 1995; alternate-season fires in winter 1991, summer 1992, and winter 1994; and unburned control) at 0-10 and 10-20 cm depth in 1996. Black carbon concentrations ranged from 50 to 130 g BC kg -1 of soil organic carbon (SOC), or from 0.55 to 1.07 g BC kg -1 of whole soil in this mixed grass savanna. The BC contribution to SOC increased significantly with soil depth (P<0.05). Repeated fires increased BC slightly compared to the unburned controls; however, the effects of repeated fires on BC were not statistically significant in this mixed-grass savanna. Results of this study provide estimates of BC concentrations for native, uncultivated mixed-grass savanna, and indicate that 2-3 fires have little effect on the size of the soil BC pool in this region. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Dai, X., Boutton, T. W., Glaser, B., Ansley, R. J., & Zech, W.

citation count

  • 102

complete list of authors

  • Dai, X||Boutton, TW||Glaser, B||Ansley, RJ||Zech, W

publication date

  • October 2005